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Turkey cannot be removed from F-35 program, FM Çavuşoğlu says

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Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Thursday said it is not possible to expel Turkey from a joint program for F-35 stealth jets, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

Speaking in Ankara at a joint press conference with his counterpart from Sierra Leone, Çavuşoğlu said the United States reacted after Turkey decided to proceed with the purchase of a Russian-made S-400 missile defense system, removing Turkish pilots and technical staff in the US from the F-35 training program and sending them back to Turkey.

“Turkey has contributed significantly. It has paid some $1.4 billion,” he said. “Manufacturing is still continuing in Turkey.”

“However, we believe this can be sorted out based on our mutual understanding, independently from the S-400 issue. Otherwise, both countries could take steps against each other and the relations would be strained unnecessarily, which would benefit no one.”

In July, despite repeated protests from the US and other NATO allies, Turkey started taking delivery of the S-400 system.

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