U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday pushed Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan to walk away from the purchase of a Russian missile defence system, describing it a "very serious challenge," although he added that he hoped the NATO allies would be able to resolve that dispute.
After a much anticipated meeting at the White House to address a crisis in relations, Trump said he was "a great fan" of the Turkish leader and that they had a "wonderful and productive" encounter.
But both leaders fell short of explaining in concrete terms how they would overcome the mounting differences they have on numerous issues such as Syria policy and Turkey's purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defence system.
"Turkey's acquisition of sophisticated Russian military equipment, such as the S-400, creates some very serious challenges for us and we are talking about it constantly," Trump told a joint news conference.
"We talked about it today, we're talking about it in the future, hopefully we'll be able to resolve that situation."
Minutes after their news conference, the White House released a statement using firmer language. "In order to achieve progress on other fronts, it is vital that we resolve the issues involving Turkeys purchase of the Russian S-400 air defence system, strengthening our defence partnership," it said.
Turkey and the United States have been at loggerheads over the purchase of the S-400 system, which the United States says is not compatible with NATO defenses and poses a threat to Lockheed Martin's F-35 'stealth' fighter jet.
Turkey had shrugged off threats of U.S. sanctions and began receiving its first S-400 deliveries in July. To punish Turkey for its purchase, the United States has banned sales of F-35s to Turkey and removed the country from a multinational program to produce the warplane.
"Weve asked our secretary of state and minister of foreign affairs and our respective national security advisers to immediately work on resolving the S-400 issue," Trump said.
Erdogan said that the two countries could only overcome their dispute on the S-400s and F-35s through dialogue. "We have agreed to open a new page in our relationship," he said.
Despite the tensions on policy issues, Trump gave a warm welcome to Erdogan. It was in sharp contrast to anger in the U.S. Congress over Ankara's offensive into Syria to drive out a Kurdish militia that has been Washington's main partner in the fight against Islamic State.
"We've been friends for a long time, almost fRead More – Source