WASHINGTON: A senior US State Department official says Turkey needs to get rid of the advanced Russian S-400 missile defense system to put an end to the standoff with the United States.
The unnamed official on Thursday warned that Turkey can still be subject to US economic sanctions under a federal law, dubbed “Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA)”.
Last week, US President Donald Trump hosted Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan at the White House for a “wonderful “meeting. However, it was not clear whether the two allies made any progress on the S-400 impasse.
“There is room for Turkey to come back to the table. They know that to make this work they need to either destroy or return or somehow get rid of the S-400,” the official told reporters at a briefing.
“They (Turkey) know that they have the choice to move forward and the choice is to rid themselves of the S-400 so that we can move forward,” he said.
The official said that the risk of American sanctions, under CAATSA, was still a possibility.
“The timeline on CAATSA sanctions is not prescribed or absolute,” he said.
Turkey began receiving the S-400 units in July, but the system is not yet operational. The second part of the shipments began on August 27.
Ankara and Washington have been at loggerheads over Turkey’s purchase of the S-400 systems, which the United States says are not compatible with NATO defenses and poses a threat to Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth fighter jets.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusglu has said that S-400 missile systems would be activated despite repeated US warnings.