Turkey has not given up on F-35 fighter jets: presidential spokesperson

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TEXAS, USA - JUNE 21: An F-35 fighter jet is seen as Turkey takes delivery of its first F-35 fighter jet with a ceremony in Forth Worth, Texas, USA on June 21, 2018. Atilgan Ozdil / Anadolu Agency

Turkey has not given up on the F-35s, and it will not be easy to remove Ankara from the fighter jet’s joint production program, Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın said on Wednesday, the Hürriyet Daily News reported.

“We believe the crisis will be resolved sooner or later,” Kalın told reporters following a Cabinet meeting at the presidential complex.

In July the US suspended Turkey’s involvement in the F-35 program, saying its purchase of a Russian-made S-400 missile defense system could endanger the fighter jets.

About ongoing efforts to establish a safe zone east of the Euphrates River in northern Syria, Kalın said if Turkey encounters any stalling or misconduct by the US, it could set up the zone by itself.

“We cannot confirm the information coming from the US side that the field is completely safe. We need to confirm it through our own sources,” he said in reference to Turkish demands that the zone be rid of the People’s Protection Units (YPG), a group of Kurdish militants Turkey considers a terrorist organization.

The US does not share Turkey’s views on the YPG and has cooperated with it as a ground force in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Turkish and US military officials agreed on Aug. 7 to set up a safe zone in northern Syria and develop a corridor to facilitate the movement of displaced Syrians who want to return home. The two countries also agreed to establish a joint operations center.

The agreement also envisaged implementing measures necessary to address Turkey’s security concerns, including clearing the zone of the YPG, according to Hürriyet.

Turkey has claimed US is stalling over departure of the YPG the northern Syrian town of Manbij.

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