Turkey, US discuss F-35 dispute

Ankara: Turkish and US Defence Ministers held a meeting here to resolve the conflict on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program.

According to the Defence Ministry in Ankara, the two sides on Thursday also discussed financial issues of the program, adding that the two NATO allies have agreed to continue their talks, reports Xinhua news agency.

The discussion came ahead of a meeting between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his US counterpart Joe Biden on the sidelines of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow scheduled to begin on Sunday.

The most important subject of this meeting would be the F-35 issue, Erdogan said on Monday, adding Ankara seeks the return of the $1.4 billion payment made for the fighter jets.

There are signals from Washington to deliver the F-16 warplanes in return for Turkey’s money paid for the F-35 program, he said.

Turkey’s procurement of the Russian S-400 missile defence systems prompted the US to remove Ankara from the F-35 program in 2019.

Tensions between the US and Turkey have since escalated over the deal, as Washington claimed that the S-400 systems would be incompatible with the NATO system and may expose its confidential military information to Russia.

Last December, the US imposed sanctions on Turkey over the S-400s, targeting the Turkish defence procurement agency and its officials.