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Turkey: Erdogan says ties with US 'not healthy', Washington needs to 'sort out' S-400 dispute

Speaking on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, Erdogan expressed frustration with Biden administration over suspension from F-35 programme
US President Joe Biden (R) speaks with Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at a Nato summit meeting in Brussels on 14 June 2021 (AFP)
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New York City

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday that Turkey's relations with the United States were not healthy and that Washington needed to "sort out" issues over Ankara's purchase of the Russian S-400 defence systems, according to broadcaster Haberturk.

Turkish-American relations have been plagued with tensions in recent years. Late last year, the US imposed sanctions on Turkey over its purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defence system and ejected Ankara from the Nato-led F-35 programme to develop advanced fighter jets.

Washington has also angered Ankara with its military support for Kurdish groups in Syria that Turkey views as a threat to its national security.

"I cannot say that a healthy process is running in Turkish-American ties... We bought F-35s, we paid $1.4 billion and these F-35s were not given to us. The United States needs to first sort this out," Haberturk quoted Erdogan as telling reporters after attending the UN General Assembly in New York.

Erdogan said Ankara would meet its defence needs from elsewhere if Washington did not help.

Turkey's purchase of the S-400 is subject to the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, which seeks to penalise any foreign government for working with the Russian defence sector.

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Turkey has maintained that it only sought the Russian-made system after it tried, without success, to purchase the American Patriot missile defence system.

"Turkey had multiple opportunities over the last decade to purchase the Patriot defense system from the United States and instead chose to purchase the S-400, which provides Russia revenue, access, and influence," Pentagon Spokesperson John Kirby said earlier this year.

Turkey had greeted the election of US President Joe Biden with some suspicion, fearing a hardening of the American stance towards Turkey on several issues.

In April, the Biden administration irked Ankara when it recognised the mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman forces during World War II as genocide

Still, Turkey had hoped to forge cooperation with the US over Afghanistan after Nato's withdrawal by operating Kabul airport, but had to revise its original plan after the Taliban's rapid takeover of the country.

Erdogan has since been critical of the US withdrawal decision, saying Washington had to "pay the price" for its move.

The two countries should work together as friends but "the current direction does not bode well", Erdogan said, adding he and US President Joe Biden had not "started off right".