Turkey will not give up on Russian S-400 air defense system to acquire U.S. Patriots, the Turkish president said on Wednesday, stressing his country "can buy Patriots too".
"It is out of question to completely leave Russian S-400 to buy U.S. Patriots. We can buy Patriots too. However, we will buy S-400 as well," Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters in his flight en route to Ankara from Washington.
"Turkey can buy U.S. Patriots, but we consider offers to buy just Patriots and completely put Russian S-400s aside as an interference in our sovereignty rights," Erdogan added.
Turkey's acquisition of the advanced Russian air-defense system prompted the Trump administration to remove Turkey from the F-35 fifth-generation joint strike fighter program in July.
The U.S. maintains that the system could be used by Russia to covertly obtain classified details on the jet and is incompatible with NATO systems.
Turkey, however, counters that the S-400 would not be integrated into NATO systems and would not pose a threat to the alliance.
Erdogan said U.S. President Donald Trump makes sincere efforts to find solutions for issues based on mutual respect and national interests in bilateral relations.
"[However], anti-Trump circles are working hard to break our relations," he said, referring to a resolution passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on Armenian claims.
Adding that Trump was "positive and constructive", Erdogan said building dialogue on facts would help overcome disagreements between Turkey and the U.S.
He said Turkey sought to have "friendly" relations with both Russia and the U.S., stressing that Turkey would "continue to explain our rightful arguments against disinformation activities on every platform."
On Oct. 29, the anniversary of the Turkish Republic, the House voted 405-11 in favor of a resolution to recognize alleged killings of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire in 1915 as ''genocide''. The resolution is not legally binding.
The House vote was also a response to Turkey's anti-terror operation in northeastern Syria and U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to pull back troops from the area of the operation.
Turkey's position on the events of 1915 is that the deaths of Armenians in eastern Anatolia took place when some sided with invading Russians and revolted against Ottoman forces. A subsequent relocation of Armenians resulted in numerous casualties.
Turkey objects to the presentation of the incidents as "genocide" but describes the 1915 events as a tragedy in which both sides suffered casualties.
Ankara has repeatedly proposed the creation of a joint commission of historians from Turkey and Armenia plus international experts to examine the issue.
Erdogan said talks on extradition of the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) ringleader Fetullah Gulen were ongoing between the Turkish and the U.S. Justice Ministries.
He said that the Turkish side presented booklets to the U.S. senators on crimes committed by the FETO terror group.
Erdogan also bemoaned Washington's treatment of the YPG/PKK terror group's leader, Ferhat Abdi Sahin.
Sahin, also known as Mazloum Kobani, is the ringleader of the PYD/YPG, the Syrian offshoot of the PKK terror organization. Trump repeatedly praised the terrorist leader and said he looked forward to seeing him.
Erdogan also said he submitted various documents to the CIA that showed that Sahin is a terrorist.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and EU -- has been responsible for the deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants. The YPG/PKK is the Syrian offshoot of the PKK.
Source: Anadolu Agency