By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) - Turkey's proposal to form a committee to examine technical concerns about its procurement of an advanced Russian missile defense system is still under consideration, said Turkey's presidential spokesman on Tuesday.
"And our proposal to establish this technical committee under the NATO umbrella is still on the table. We are waiting to hear from our U.S. colleagues and from NATO," Ibrahim Kalin told reporters at the Turkish embassy. "Because we wouldn’t want to have our F-35 program jeopardized in any way by the S-400 or any other system."
Tensions between the U.S. and Turkey have reached a fever pitch in recent months with Turkey set to begin receiving the advanced S-400 Russian surface-to-air missile system that Washington said will jeopardize Turkey's role in the F-35 fighter jet program and which could trigger congressional sanctions.
The U.S. already suspended deliveries of parts and services related to Turkey's receipt of the multi-million dollar fighter jets.
Following protracted efforts to purchase an air defense system from the U.S. with no success, Ankara decided in 2017 to purchase the Russian S-400 system.
U.S. officials advised Turkey to buy the U.S. Patriot missile system rather than the S-400s from Moscow, arguing that the Russian system would be incompatible with NATO systems and expose the F-35 to possible Russian subterfuge.
Turkey, however, has emphasized that the S-400 would not be integrated into NATO operability and would not pose a threat to the alliance.
Kalin stressed Turkish experts have said the S-400 would not "jeopardize" the F-35, reiterating that Ankara wants to remain part of the F-35 program.