US letter ‘not in line with spirit of alliance’ – Turkey

Ankara is preparing a response to the letter announcing shortening of F-35 pilot training programme, Turkish defence minister says

Turkey's defence minister on Wednesday objected to a letter sent by the US, saying it "is not in line with the spirit of alliance."

Speaking to reporters in Gebele, Azerbaijan, Hulusi Akar said: "We have noticed [...] that the manner is not in line with the spirit of alliance. We are accordingly preparing a response."

US Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan sent a letter to Akar last week, saying Washington will cut short a training program on F-35 fighter jets for Turkish pilots over "safety concerns".

"We've suspended some of the activities in terms of training. We haven't suspended any of the maintenance activity," the letter said.

Akar reiterated that Turkey has always remained committed to its responsibility toward NATO and the US

"To date, we have fulfilled all of our responsibilities without any delay or interruption toward the US and NATO," he said.

Akar also said that he will speak to Shanahan over the phone on Thursday and meet at the NATO Defense Ministers Meeting in Brussels by the end of June.

S-400 row

Tensions between the US and Turkey have lingered on over the purchase of Russian S-400 missile defence systems by Ankara.

Turkey decided in 2017 to purchase the S-400 system following protracted efforts to purchase air defence systems from the US with no success.

Washington maintains the move will jeopardise Turkey's role in the US F-35 fighter jet programme and could trigger congressional sanctions.

Source: TRT World and Agencies