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NATO Remarks on Turkey’s Plans To Purchase Russian Air-Defense Missile Systems

Turkey's relations with Russia have historically been tense, but Moscow and Ankara have established strong economic ties since the end of the Cold War.

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NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg meets with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Ankara on May 6. RFERL

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has expressed concern about the potential consequences of Turkey’s plans to purchase Russian air-defense missile systems.

Stoltenberg was speaking on May 6 during a joint press conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Ankara, amid a widening rift between Washington and Ankara over Turkey’s deal to buy S-400 surface-to-air missile systems.

The United States has demanded that NATO ally Turkey call off its deal with Russia, saying that the S-400 missiles are incompatible with NATO systems and are seen as a threat to U.S.-made F-35 fighter jets.

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Under Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin, the countries have moved closer in recent years amid severe tension between Russia and the West and strains in Turkey’s ties with the United States and European Union. Pixabay

Washington has said it could also withdraw an offer to sell Ankara the U.S. equivalent — the Patriot anti-missile system – and warned that Turkey risks being ejected from the F-35 fighter-jet program.

Turkey is a member of the consortium involved in the production of the jet and a buyer.

In Ankara, Stoltenberg said that every NATO ally makes its own decisions on the kind of military equipment it buys.

“But at same time I am concerned about the potential consequences as the United States has made it clear that they will impose sanctions” if Turkey goes through with the deal, the NATO chief added.

“What is important for NATO is interoperability — that systems can work together,” he said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly said that his country won’t withdraw from the S-400 deal, which according to Russian media involved four S-400 units for a price of $2.5 billion.

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The United States has demanded that NATO ally Turkey call off its deal with Russia, saying that the S-400 missiles are incompatible with NATO systems and are seen as a threat to U.S.-made F-35 fighter jets. Pixabay

Speaking alongside Stoltenberg on May 6, Erdogan said that he disapproved of attempts to provoke debate on issues like the S-400 that “are within the sovereign rights of our country.”

Turkey’s developing ties “with other countries and regions are not an alternative to each other,” he said, adding that instead they complemented each other.

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Turkey’s relations with Russia have historically been tense, but Moscow and Ankara have established strong economic ties since the end of the Cold War.

Under Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin, the countries have moved closer in recent years amid severe tension between Russia and the West and strains in Turkey’s ties with the United States and European Union. (RFERL)

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President of Egypt Calls for Collective Action Against Countries Supporting Terrorism

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The president of Egypt Urges world leaders to take decisive action against states supporting terrorism. Pixabay

Egypt’s president Wednesday called for “decisive” and “collective” action against countries supporting “terrorism” in an apparent reference to Turkey and Qatar, who back the Muslim Brotherhood group, which is outlawed in Egypt.

The three countries also support opposing factions in the war-torn Libya.

Addressing a two-day forum on peace in Africa in the southern city of Aswan, Abdel Fattah el-Sissi also said achieving sustainable development in Africa is needed, along with efforts to fight militant groups in Egypt and the Sahel region that stretches across Africa south of the Sahara Desert.

“There should be a decisive response to countries supporting terrorism and a collective response against terrorism, because the terrorist groups will only have the ability to fight if they are provided with financial, military and moral support,” he said.

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The President of Egypt Abdel Fattah el-Sisi addresses the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly. VOA

The gathering in Aswan is attended by the leaders of Niger, Chad, Nigeria and Senegal along with officials from the U.S., Britain and Canada.

The Sahel region is home to al-Qaida and Islamic State group-linked militants. El-Sissi said Egypt could help train forces and provide weapons to countries in the region to fight extremists.

Egypt has for years been battling an Islamic State-led insurgency that intensified after the military overthrew an elected but divisive Muslim Brotherhood President Muhammad Morsi in 2013 amid mass protests against his brief rule.

Militant-related violence in Egypt has been centered on the Sinai Peninsula, as well as in the country’s vast Western Desert, which has witnessed deadly attacks blamed on militants infiltrating from neighboring Libya.

Since Morsi’s ouster, tensions have grown between Egypt and Turkey and Egypt and Qatar. The political party of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, which Cairo designated as at terrorist group in 2013.

Upcoming conference

El-Sissi also said a “comprehensive, political solution would be achieved in the coming months” for the conflict in Libya, which descended into chaos after the 2011 civil war that ousted and killed long-time dictator Moammar Gadhafi. He did not elaborate.

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This photo provided by the office of Egypt’s president Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, dignitaries including Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, center, gather, for a photo during a two-day forum on peace in Africa in the southern city of Aswan, Egypt. VOA

He said that would put an end to a “terrorist hotbed that pushes militants and weapons to (Libya’s) neighboring countries including Egypt.”

El-Sissi apparently was referring to an international summit in Berlin that aims to reach an agreement on actions needed to end the conflict. The conference had been scheduled for October, but it has apparently been postponed.

After the 2011 civil war, Libya split in two, with a weak U.N.-supported administration in Tripoli overseeing the country’s west and a rival government in the east aligned with the Libyan National Army led by Gen. Khalifa Hifter.

Maritime border agreement 

El-Sissi’s comments came amid heightened tensions with Turkey after a controversial maritime border agreement it signed last month with Libya’s Tripoli-based government.

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Greece, Egypt and Cyprus, which lie between the two geographically, have denounced the deal as being contrary to international law, and Greece expelled the Libyan ambassador last week over the issue.

Hifter has for months been fighting an array of militias allied with the Tripoli authorities to wrestle control of the capital.  He is backed by the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, as well as France and Russia, while the Tripoli-based government receives aid from Turkey, Qatar and Italy. (VOA)