Turkey, Italy, France to resume talks on air defense system cooperation: Turkish Prez

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Turkey, France and Italy have decided to resume defense cooperation talks over Eurosam’s SAMP/T missile system, the state TRT broadcaster reported, quoting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“There were some steps we have taken between Turkey and France. We have decided to continue our efforts in the Turkey-France relations, and even to revive the steps we have taken as Turkey-France-Italy,” Erdogan told journalists on his flight from Belgium to Turkey, referring to the trilateral cooperation negotiations over Eurosam’s defense systems.

The Turkish President elaborated on his meetings with French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi on the sidelines of a NATO meeting in Brussels on Thursday, Xinhua news agency reported.

“We discussed that issue with Draghi just as we discussed it with Macron. Draghi also brought up this issue in his meeting with Macron after me,” Erdogan said.

In 2019, Turkey, France and Italy signed a letter of intent to strengthen defense cooperation aimed to jointly develop an anti-ballistic missile system based on the SAMP/T of the Franco-Italian Eurosam consortium.

In 2018, Turkey awarded Eurosam and Turkish companies Aselsan and Roketsan a contract for a 18-month joint study of the needs and priorities for the potential project.

The deal between Turkey and Eurosam came at a time when Ankara saw fierce pressure from the US over its procurement of Russia’s S-400 air defense systems.

However, France blocked progress in the joint production program after Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring in northern Syria in 2019, Ismail Demir, Head of the Turkish Defense Industries Directorate, told local media in January 2020.

In October 2019, the French National Assembly, the lower house of the parliament, approved unanimously a resolution condemning Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring.

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