Erdoğan says personal bond with Trump can overcome Russian S-400 crisis: report

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Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and US President Donald Trump shake hands before a meeting at the Palace Hotel during the 72nd United Nations General Assembly on September 21, 2017 in New York City. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said he will discuss buying US Patriot missiles with President Donald Trump this month, saying his personal bond with the US leader could overcome a crisis caused by Ankara buying a Russian air defense system, Reuters reported.

Turkey’s purchase of the Russian S-400 missile system in July raised the prospect of US sanctions, and the State Department has said an offer to sell Raytheon Co’s Patriot missile defense system to Ankara has expired.

However Erdoğan told Reuters he had discussed buying Patriots in a phone call with Trump two weeks ago and would follow up when they meet at the UN General Assembly, which opens next week.

“I said no matter what package of … S-400s we get, we can buy from you a certain amount of Patriots,” Erdoğan told Reuters on Friday.

“But I said we have to see conditions that at least match up to the S-400s,” Erdogan said, adding that he was referring to the possibility of joint production and favorable lending terms.

“He [Trump] said: ‘Are you serious?’ I said: ‘Yes’,” Erdoğan said, adding that he told Trump they would discuss it in greater detail when they meet.

Asked whether he would also ask Trump to prevent the US Treasury imposing a heavy fine on Turkey’s mainly state-owned Halkbank for violating US sanctions on Iran, Erdoğan said he was confident they could avoid such a “mistake,” citing what he said was “a different kind of trust” between the two men.

“In my opinion a country like the USA will not want to hurt its ally Turkey any more. This is not a rational behavior,” he said in an interview at the Ottoman Dolmabahçe palace complex on the Bosporus in İstanbul.

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