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Trump: US will not sell F-35 to Turkey, but reluctant to impose sanctions

US President Donald Trump said Tuesday that his administration would not sell to Turkey F-35 fighter jets because of Ankara’s purchase of Russian S-400 air defense system. However, he showed reluctance to impose sanctions against the country.

During a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Trump said “we are now telling Turkey…we’re not going to sell you the F-35 fighter jets.”

Trump added: “It’s a very tough situation that they’re in. And it’s a very tough situation that we’ve been placed in the United States,” Trump said. “With all of that being said, we’re working through it. We’ll see what happens, but it’s not really fair.”

Washington has repeatedly insisted that if Turkey bought the S-400 over a steeply discounted Patriot missile system, that the US would block the sale of Lockheed Martin’s F-35 fighter jets – and unprecedented punishment for a NATO member. And as it turns out, that’s exactly what President Trump is planning to do.

But Trump was mum on a more pressing issue: Whether Washington will subject Ankara to sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, or CAATSA. While Erdogan has suggested that Trump would find a way to avoid the sanctions, last year, Congress set a high bar for waiving sanctions under CAATSA.

But the Turkish purchase of the Russian S-400 is not the only issue of concern for Washington.

Asked about the EU sanctions for Turkish drilling in Cyprus economic zone, State Department spokesperson Morgan Orgagus said:

“We’ve talked about – I think we’ve talked about this before here. We certainly have expressed similar – similarly to the Europeans, we’ve expressed deep concerns over Turkey’s assertions that it is going to continue to drill in these waters off of Cyprus. And I think that I’m pretty sure that I released a statement on this back on July 9th, and so I refer you back to that statement. I could read it, but you could probably easily get a copy. But again, we similarly share the concern that the Europeans have displayed today.”

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