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Pentagon warns Turkey: Senator hints of NATO Expulsion

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Pentagon warns Turkey: Senator hints of NATO Expulsion
« on: Mar 04, 2019, 05:50:53 am »

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Pentagon warns Turkey; senator hints at NATO expulsion

'Acting Pentagon chief Pat Shanahan has warned Turkey over plans to buy a Russian missile defense system, while a US senator has asked whether Ankara is seeking to leave NATO.

Turkey has rejected a US proposal to deliver one Patriot missile defense system by the end of 2019 provided that Ankara abandons a deal to buy the S-400 missile defense system from Russia.

Shanahan warned that the purchase would imperil prospects to sell the NATO ally the next-generation F-35 jet Turkey is helping to build.

"My position is that the S-400 and F-35 are incompatible – meaning that they don't go together," Bloomberg quoted him as saying in an interview in his Pentagon office. Turkey signed a contract worth $2.5 billion in December 2017 for the purchase of the S-400 missile defense system, ignoring objections from its NATO allies.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Saturday said that Turkey bought the Russian-made system, as it could not buy a similar one from its Western allies.

The purchase reflects a broader political shift as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan finds himself increasingly at odds with the US.

President Donald Trump has raised tariffs on Turkey, declined to extradite a Turkish cleric whom Erdogan blames for a failed coup in 2016 and infuriated Ankara over US support for Kurdish militants in Syria.

Shanahan did not say what action the US would take if Turkey went ahead with the purchase of the sophisticated defense system.

"We'll cross that bridge when we get there, but we are talking about making sure they have" US-made Patriot air defenses, he said.

The Pentagon chief said he has spoken with his Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar five times since becoming the acting defense secretary on January 1.

"They're a strategic partner and I think at the end of the day, they'll remain a strategic partner," Shanahan said.'

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