Ankara and Washington began negotiating Turkey’s purchase of a Patriot missile defense system from the US, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Friday evening, the Hürriyet Daily News reported.
“A positive response came from the Americans to the last letter we sent regarding the Patriot issue two years ago, and negotiations have begun,” Çavuşoğlu told a local broadcaster in the western province of Eskişehir.
He underlined that various factors including the price, delivery timetable and prospects for transfer of the system’s technology would also carry weight in the negotiation process, adding that Washington offered to send one system at an earlier date after Ankara’s objections to the late delivery of a separate system.
After protracted efforts to purchase an air defense system from the US with no success, in 2017 Ankara decided to buy a Russian S-400 air defense system.
“We are buying the S-400s because we couldn’t purchase the Patriots,” Çavuşoğlu said, adding that the sale would be made only if it is found to be in the interests of Ankara.
Before Çavuşoğlu’s remarks, Bloomberg on Friday reported that Turkey had rejected a US proposal to deliver one Patriot missile defense system by the end of 2019, which was conditional on Ankara abandoning a deal with Russia.
Turkey’s purchase of the Russian air defense system has strained relations between two NATO allies.