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Pompeo expresses US concern over Turkey’s acquisition of Russian S-400 missiles

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY) –¬†US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told his Turkish counterpart on Friday that the United States was deeply concerned about Ankara’s decision to buy Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile batteries, which are incompatible with NATO defenses.

“The minister highlighted the seriousness of US concerns … if they move forward,” a senior US official said after a meeting between Pompeo and Turkish Foreign Minister Mouloud Zhaoshoglu on the sidelines of a meeting of NATO foreign ministers.

“He asked Chaochoglu to study closely the compatibility of NATO systems,” he said.

Hours after he was confirmed as foreign minister in the administration of President Donald Trump, Pompeo traveled to Brussels for NATO meetings, which focused on Russia’s hostile policies and ways to strengthen the alliance.

During the meeting, Pompeo also raised concerns about the detention of the pastor Andrew Branson, who has been in jail since December 2016, and other Americans held by Turkey.

Turkey signed an agreement with Russia for the S-400 missiles, reportedly worth $ 2.5 billion in late December, as part of Ankara’s plans to strengthen its defense capabilities amid threats from Kurdish militants, hardline Islamists at home and conflicts across the border in Syria and Iraq.

Zhaooshoglu told Turkish radio after the meeting that the S-400 missile deal had been completed but Turkey was ready to buy other defense systems from its allies.

“We have completed the (S-400) missile operation. The issue is settled … But we need more air defenses. We can look at what can be done on other acquisitions.”

The system is not compatible with NATO regulations and has angered Turkey’s purchase of NATO member states already concerned about Moscow’s military presence in the Middle East.

NATO officials have warned Turkey of unspecified consequences for the S-400, but Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said relations with the alliance remained strong.