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Turkey needs to 'get rid of' S-400s to overcome impasse: State Dept official

Reuters logo Reuters 11/21/2019
a fighter jet sitting on top of a runway: A Russian plane carrying parts of a Russian S-400 defense system┬álands at Murted Airport near Ankara © Reuters/TURKISH MILITARY/TURKISH DEFENCE A Russian plane carrying parts of a Russian S-400 defense system┬álands at Murted Airport near Ankara

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Turkey needs to "get rid of" the Russian S-400 missile defense system it purchased, a senior State Department official said on Thursday, to overcome a standoff with Washington, which says the procurement poses a threat to NATO defense capabilities.

"There is room for Turkey to come back to the table. They know that to make this work they need to either destroy or return or somehow get rid of the S-400," the official told reporters at a briefing.

Ankara and Washington have been at loggerheads over Turkey's purchase of the S-400s, which Washington says are not compatible with NATO defenses and pose a threat to its F-35 stealth fighter jets.

In response, the United States suspended Turkey from the F-35 program and warned of possible U.S. sanctions over the deal, although it has yet to impose them.

Last week, Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan and U.S. President Donald Trump met at the White House to discuss mounting differences ranging from the S-400s to Syria policy. During the talks, Trump urged Erdogan to drop the S-400 systems in lieu of U.S. Patriot systems.

(Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Bill Berkrot)

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