Turkey tells U.S. at NATO that Russian defence purchase is 'done deal'

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken arrive to take part in a North Atlantic Council (NAC) at foreign ministers level, at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium March 23, 2021. REUTERS/Yves Herman/Pool

ANKARA, March 24 (Reuters) - Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said he told U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday that Ankara's purchase of Russian air defences was "a done deal", adding that the NATO allies needed a roadmap to discuss their disagreements.

Ankara and Washington have been at odds over issues including Syria policy, human rights and the S-400 air defence acquisition, over which the United States has sanctioned Turkey and removed it from its F-35 fighter jet programme.

"On the S-400s, we reminded them once again why Turkey had to buy them, and repeated that Turkey had bought them and this is a done deal," Cavusoglu told reporters in Brussels after their first face-to-face meeting since Blinken took office.

Describing the talks as constructive, Cavusoglu said Ankara wanted to meet its future defence needs primarily from NATO allies, and agreed on the need to keep discussing differences with Washington.

"We may discuss these and what future steps to take on strategic topics by establishing a bilateral working group," he said. "We need to work on a roadmap."

The U.S. State Department said Blinken had "urged Turkey not to retain the Russian S-400 air defence system". Washington has repeatedly rejected a working group to discuss the S-400s.

The two ministers also discussed planned Afghanistan peace talks in Istanbul next month, the State Department said. read more

Spokesman Ned Price said the United States also raised Turkey's decision at the weekend to pull out of an international treaty designed to protect women from violence.

Blinken "expressed concern over Turkey's withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention...and emphasized the importance of democratic institutions and respect for human rights," he said.

Ankara has said it wants better ties with Washington under Biden, but the two countries' leaders have yet to speak. Last week, Erdogan criticised Biden's remarks about Russia's Vladimir Putin, in which he called him a killer, as "unacceptable". read more

Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu and Ece Toksabay; Writing by Dominic Evans; Editing by Alison Williams and Hugh Lawson

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