ANKARA (Reuters) – President Tayyip Erdogan said he would discuss strained U.S. relations with President-elect Joe Biden when he takes office, playing down the possibility of sanctions over Turkey’s purchase of Russian missile defence systems.
Bilateral ties have been hit by Turkey’s purchase of Russian S-400 missile defence systems, differences in policy on Syria and the detention of U.S. consulate employees and citizens in Turkey.
“We don’t find the statements they (the U.S. administration) make and the actions they take regarding our arms procurements to be nice. We especially don’t find their approach in northern Syria to be right,” Erdogan said.
Speaking to reporters before traveling to Azerbaijan, he said that it was too early to comment on the incoming U.S. administration under Biden, who has criticised Erdogan’s policies.
“Let Mr Biden take office. Once he assumes office, we will surely sit down and discuss certain things with Mr Biden. Just like we sat and talked in the United States or Turkey in the past, we will discuss these again,” he said.
Ankara’s purchase last year of the S-400s from Moscow raised the prospect of U.S. sanctions early next year if Congress approves a defence spending bill including language requiring the president to sanction Turkey. The House of Representatives passed the bill on Tuesday.
“In diplomacy, a path is found to these issues by talking and meeting. (…) I believe we will manage this period very differently with the United States,” Erdogan said, playing down the prospect of sanctions.
(Reporting by Ece Toksabay and Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Dominic Evans)