Minister Akar had a phone call with US Acting Secretary of Defense Esper


National Defence Minister Hulusi Akar had a phone call with US Acting Secretary of Defense Mark Esper.
Turkey's procurement of long-range regional air and missile defence systems as well as security issues concerning Syria were discussed during the phone call.
Minister Akar told his US counterpart that Turkey remains under a serious air and missile threat and that purchase of S-400 defence systems was not an option but rather a necessity and Turkey was still assessing the bid to acquire US patriot air defence systems.  
Emphasizing that Turkey is a partner of the F-35 fighter aircraft programme and that programme should continue uninterrupted, Akar said that Turkey's proposal was still on the table for setting up a joint working group - that could include NATO - to assess the possible interaction of F-35 aircraft and S-400 systems.
Turkey has fulfilled all its obligations under the F-35 programme and it remains committed to its position, Akar said. 
Minister Akar stressed that Turkey’s purchase of S-400 does not in any way mean change of its strategic orientation and reiterated that deterioration of bilateral relations would serve the interests of neither Turkey nor the US nor NATO. 
Akar emphasized that the only military force that is ready, competent and appropriate for the establishment of the safe zone in northern Syria was the Turkish Armed Forces.  He reiterated that for Turkey, protection of its borders and people was the priority and in the face of intensive attacks from the Syrian border Turkey would have to take necessary measures and would not allow terror groups seeking safe haven right across its borders. 
Minister Akar and Acting Secretary Esper agreed during the phone call that the communication lines should be maintained a US military team should urgently be dispatched to Ankara next week to further the discussions on the safe zone in Syria.

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