Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said he told U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday that Ankara’s purchase of Russian air defences was “a done deal”, adding that the NATO allies needed a roadmap to discuss their disagreements. The background of talks will emerge slowly over the coming days, but PA Turkey believes Antony Blinken did lay out a roadmap for Turkey, which contains economy-wrecking sanctions, if the S-400 problem is not resolved.
Ankara and Washington have been at odds over issues including Syria policy, human rights and the S-400 air defence acquisition, over which the United States has sanctioned Turkey and removed it from its F-35 fighter jet programme.
“On the S-400s, we reminded them once again why Turkey had to buy them, and repeated that Turkey had bought them and this is a done deal,” Cavusoglu told reporters in Brussels after their first face-to-face meeting since Blinken took office.
Describing the talks as constructive, Cavusoglu said Ankara wanted to meet its future defence needs primarily from NATO allies, and agreed on the need to keep discussing differences with Washington.
“We may discuss these and what future steps to take on strategic topics by establishing a bilateral working group,” he said. “We need to work on a roadmap.”
The news so far doesn’t mention whether Turkey will go ahead with the purchase of second batch of S-400s, which it is negotiating for with Russia.
It is also not clear why Turkey needs s-400s so desperately, when it hasn’t dared activate the first slew of batteries, despite constantly talking about “existential threats” from abroad.
The U.S. State Department said Blinken had “urged Turkey not to retain the Russian S-400 air defence system”. Washington has repeatedly rejected a working group to discuss the S-400s.
The two ministers also discussed planned Afghanistan peace talks in Istanbul next month, the State Department said.
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Spokesman Ned Price said the United States also raised Turkey’s decision at the weekend to pull out of an international treaty designed to protect women from violence.
Blinken “expressed concern over Turkey’s withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention…and emphasized the importance of democratic institutions and respect for human rights,” he said.
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Ankara has said it wants better ties with Washington under Biden, but the two countries’ leaders have yet to speak. Last week, Erdogan criticized Biden’s remarks about Russia’s Vladimir Putin, in which he called him a killer, as “unacceptable”.
The disputes between US and Turkey may escalate in the coming days, as the Halkbank Iran sanctions violations trial matures, while the Armenian Diaspora in US pressure the White House to recognize the so-called Armenian genocide of 1917.
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