U.S. President Donald Trump may have gain some time, by announcing last Wednesday that he agreed with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan to instruct Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu to deal with the S-400 stumbling point of the US-Turkey relations. But key allies of U.S. President in the Senate, who were brought by Donald Trump into an extraordinary White House meeting with Erdogan, are furious after learning that the Turkish President stated upon his return to Turkey that he plans to make the Russian antiaircraft system operational.
U.S. Senator Jim Risch, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was one of the five Republican Senators asked by President Donald Trump to meet with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, at the White House. Risch remains resolute in his position that Turkey cannot retain S-400 air defense systems and at the same time obtain F-35 aircraft. Risch made the following statement following reports that Erdogan has returned to Turkey and contends that he will keep the Russian S-400s:
In a statement issued on Friday, Senator Jim Risch said:
“When Erdogan walked into the meeting on Wednesday, he thought he was going to make an acceptable case for keeping Russian weapons systems. We brought him to reality in no uncertain terms – from the reality of crippling sanctions on his economy, to our concerns regarding his attack on the Kurds – and he left that meeting with what we hoped was a different and clear understanding that the Senate remains firm and that keeping the Russian S-400 missiles is a nonstarter.
“Now that Erdogan has gone home, according to news reports, he has stated that not only will he keep S-400s, he will make them operational in a matter of months. As chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, I have jurisdiction over foreign military sales. I will work with my colleagues to ensure there is zero chance that F-35s will leave the United States for Turkey while Erdogan possesses the S-400 missile system. As long as those S-400s are in his country under Turkish control, there will be no F-35’s delivered to Turkey. In addition, if he is firm in his position on keeping the S-400s, I intend to move forward with a Turkey sanctions bill. It is his choice, and he knows the consequences.”
Turkey says it bought
Russian S-400s to use
them, not put them aside
Turkey bought S-400 missile defense systems from Russia to use them, not put them aside, the head of the Turkish Defense Industry Directorate said on Saturday, days after talks between President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and US President Donald Trump.
In an interview with broadcaster CNN Turk, Ismail Demir said it was not logical for any country to purchase such systems only to put them aside, and added that Ankara and Washington aimed to tackle the issue.
“It is not a correct approach to say ‘we won’t use them for their sake’ about a system that we bought out of necessity and paid so much money for,” Demir said. “We have allied relations with Russia and the United States. We have to go on and respect the agreements we signed,” he said.
On Wednesday, Trump urged Erdogan at the White House to drop the S-400 systems, but Erdogan later said Ankara could not harm its relations with Russia. He reiterated Turkey’s desire to buy US Patriot defenses in addition to the S-400s.
A top aide to Erdogan said on Friday that Turkish and US officials had begun working as part of a joint mechanism aiming to evaluate the impact of the S-400s on the F-35s.
Demir said the move showed an easing in the position of the United States, and added that Turkey was ready to take measures that will address US concerns over the S-400s after the talks.
“As a loyal friend and ally, we have said we were ready to take measures if there are any risks that we have overlooked on this issue,” Demir said. “We still believe we can find a middle ground on the S-400 issue, so long as both sides are open.”
Demir also said Turkish personnel were continuing their training on the S-400s in Russia, but added that there would be no Russian personnel coming to Turkey to operate the systems.
Senator Lindsey Graham
blocks the Armenian
Senator Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., blocked a congressional resolution Wednesday that would have recognized the Armenian genocide by Ottoman Turks hours after he and President Trump met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Graham objected to passing H.Res.296, according to The Hill, saying senators shouldn’t “sugarcoat history or try to rewrite it.” Graham’s office did not comment on the matter in response to a Fox News request.
Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., asked for consent to pass the resolution, which would have formally recognized the killing of more than a million Armenians between 1915 and 1923.
“The United States foreign policy must reflect an honest accounting of human rights abuses, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing and genocide. We cannot turn our backs on the Armenian victims of genocide,” he said, according to the politics website.
The resolution overwhelmingly passed in a 405- 11 House vote last month. Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn voted present, saying it was just as important for the U.S. to recognize its role in the deaths of millions of indigenous people and the slave trade.
Turkey has long disputed the term “genocide,” calling the death toll inflated and considering those killed victims of war. Similar resolutions have been introduced in recent presidential administrations but none ever reached the floor.
Opponents argue recognizing the Armenian genocide could anger Turkey, a crucial ally relied on by the U.S. to ensure stability in the region.
Graham’s actions came hours after he met with Trump and Erdogan, who arrived in the U.S. on Tuesday ahead of the face-to-meeting with the president.
“I just met with President Erdogan and President Trump about the problems we face in Syria by the military incursion by Turkey. I do hope that Turkey and Armenia can come together and deal with this problem,” Graham said on the Senate floor.
The resolution comes as relations between Turkey and the U.S. remain strained over Ankara’s military offensive in northern Syria after Trump pulled American forces from the area. Lawmakers voted last month on a bipartisan bill to sanction Turkey and condemn its incursion into Syria.
Graham has criticized the removal of U.S. troops in the area and has urged Trump to reconsider.