Turkey says in talks with Russia on air defense system

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Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Işık arrives for the UN Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial meetings at Lancaster House in London on September 8, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS

Turkey is in talks with Russia on the potential purchase of S-400 air missile defense systems, Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Işık said on Friday, adding that Ankara was also in contact with other countries on missile defense.

Russia’s stance on the issue has so far been positive, Işık said. After canceling a $3.4 billion tender for a long-range missile defense system last year, Turkey said it planned to develop its own. But earlier this month, a top defense official said Turkey could consider procuring one.

Since Turkey is a NATO ally, it remains to be seen whether such cooperation could lead to a crisis in Turkey’s relations with the Alliance, which was originally established to contain the Russian threat.

Turkey had considered purchasing missile systems from China in the last couple of years but retreated from the decision due to the incompatibility of China’s system with that of NATO.

Turkish-Russian relations went sour after Turkey downed a Russian jet over the Syrian-Turkish border in November 2015. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan apologized to Russian President Vladimir Putin in June to mend fences after Russia imposed sanctions on Turkey.

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