First-of-their-kind ‘dispute resolution’ talks between US, Turkey over F-35 jets

Senior Pentagon officials were in Ankara Wednesday for “dispute resolution discussions” over Turkey’s expulsion from the US F-35 program, the Pentagon said.

“The meeting demonstrates the commitment of the United States Government to conclude respectfully Turkey’s prior involvement in the F-35 program,” Pentagon Spokesman Lt. Col. Anton Semelroth said.

In the readout of the meeting, Semelroth said the talks were “productive” and that another meeting will be held in the coming months in Washington.

Officials from both sides have discussed the issue in recent months, but this appears to be two delegations tasked with focusing soley on a way to resolve the issue.

Turkey was kicked out of the F-35 program and sanctioned after it pushed ahead with purchasing Russian weapons, including the S-400 missile defense system. The US and NATO repeatedly warned against such a move, stressing that the S-400 was incompatible with NATO defense systems.

Wednesday’s meeting was to address “remaining issues resulting from Turkey’s removal from the F-35 program, which was finalized on September 23,” according to Semelroth.

Also Wednesday, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke with his Turkish counterpart. President Joe Biden’s National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan also had a call with his Turkish counterpart.

Meanwhile, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was quoted as saying that the F-35 issue would be at the top of his agenda during a scheduled meeting with Biden during next week’s climate summit in Glasgow.

Erdogan has said that the US needs to repay Turkey for what he says was a $1.4 billion investment.

Wednesday’s developments come a day after 11 members of Congress released a letter to Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken urging the blockage of any weapons sales to Ankara.

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