Turkey slams US Senate bill to block F-35 delivery

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Ankara, June 19 (IANS) Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim on Tuesday criticised the US Senate’s decision to block delivery of F-35 jets to Turkey, describing it “unfortunate” and “regrettable”.

“The decision is an unfortunate move,” Yildirim said in Turkey’s Izmir province, adding that “Turkey is not without alternatives. Such attempts are regrettable and goes against the spirit of strategic partnership”.

The US Senate on Monday approved a $716 billion defence budget bill, including an amendment prohibiting sales to Turkey of F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets made by Lockheed Martin, Xinhua news agency reported.

The amendment claimed that Turkey’s purchasing of the S-400 air defence system from Russia increases tensions and risks to the NATO alliance. It also demanded the release of US Pastor Andrew Brunson held in Turkey who faces terror charges.

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According to the amendment, US President Donald Trump should certify that Turkey does not threaten NATO, purchase defence equipment from Russia or detain US citizens.

The bill still needs to be passed by the US House and is not expected to become law until later in the summer, reported Daily Sabah.

Earlier, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that they would turn to other markets if the US does not allow it to buy F-35 jets.

–IANS

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