Turkey's Erdogan says U.S. softening stance on Patriot systems

ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said that the United States was softening its stance on a potential sale of U.S. Patriot defense systems, adding that Washington had asked Ankara to guarantee it will not activate Russian S-400 defense systems.

Turkey and the United States, NATO allies, have been at odds over Ankara’s purchase last year of the Russian S-400s, which Washington says are incompatible with the alliance’s defense systems and would compromise U.S. stealth fighter jets which Turkey was helping build and was scheduled to take delivery of.

The United States said Turkey could not have both the S-400s and Patriots. However, after the escalation of fighting in northwest Syria’s Idlib this year, Ankara asked Washington to deploy Patriot systems on its border with Syria for protection.

Washington has said it was willing to provide ammunition to Turkey for its military operations Idlib and that it was evaluating the Turkish demand for Patriot systems “within the context of the S-400s” issue.

“We made this offer to the United States on the Patriot: If you are going to give us Patriots, then do it. We can also buy Patriots from you,” Erdogan told reporters on a return flight from Brussels. “They also softened significantly on this S-400 issue. They are now at the point of ‘promise us you won’t make the S-400s operational’,” he added.

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