Turkey voiced hope Tuesday that the United States will extend an exemption in sanctions to allow it to keep buying oil from Iran, despite tensions between the allies on multiple fronts.
Turkish Finance Minister Berat Albayrak met President Donald Trump at the White House on Monday and discussed the range of disagreements including Ankara’s major weapons purchase from Russia, said Ibrahim Kalin, the spokesman for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “It was a positive meeting overall,” Kalin told reporters in Washington.
Kalin said Turkey was hopeful that the Trump administration would issue another waiver for Turkey after last year demanding that all nations stop buying oil from Iran. “Certainly we are expecting an extension for Turkey,” Kalin said, adding that Ankara has not received a formal notice.
Kalin renewed Turkey’s offer to form a joint committee to examine US concerns that Russia would gain data in Turkey to help the S-400 system shoot down the Western planes.
The United States has given six-month exemptions to eight countries China, Greece, India, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Turkey that run out on May 2. Kalin said Turkey had reduced its imports from Iran despite disagreeing with the US sanctions, which Trump imposed unilaterally after pulling out of an international accord under which Tehran drastically scaled back its nuclear program.
“People should not expect Turkey to turn its back on Iran just like that,” he said, pointing to the countries’ shared border and historic relationship. “We want to maintain good relations with Iran and we believe that the way to deal with Iran is more engagement rather than more sanctions.”
Relations between the United States and Turkey deteriorated after the NATO ally said it would buy the S-400 missile defense system from the alliance’s main nemesis Russia. The United States has responded by suspending Turkey’s participation in the key F-35 fighter-jet project.
Kalin renewed Turkey’s offer to form a joint committee to examine US concerns that Russia would gain data in Turkey to help the S-400 system shoot down the Western planes. He said that Russian air defenses are already operating in war-torn Syria, where Israeli F-35s frequently enter the airspace.
“When you consider the airspace in the region, it should be very easy for Russians to gain access to that sensitive data already,” Kalin said. “If they are waiting for Turkey to install these S-400s in Turkey to get that information, that wouldn’t make sense.”
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Kalin was in Washington to participate in a conference of the American-Turkish Council, a business group, at the Trump International Hotel.
© Agence France-Presse