President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said that Turkey has no hesitation in purchasing Russian-made S-400 missile defense systems, an acquisition that has already irked the United States.
"We have no hesitation in purchasing the second batch and other issues regarding Russia," Erdoğan told reporters on Aug. 29.
"We have taken plenty of steps with Russia in the area of the defense industry, including the S-400s," the president said, recalling the hiring of Russian Ilyushin firefighting planes to battle the devastating forest fires in Turkey.
Saying that he discussed the said issues with Russian President Vladimir Putin in their latest phone call, Erdoğan noted that they will be also on the countries' agenda in his visit to Russia.
Moscow and Ankara inked a deal in 2017 on the delivery of the S-400 air defense system to Turkey, thereby making it the first NATO member to purchase this air defense missile system from Russia.
Ankara's purchase of the S-400s has strained ties with the United States and NATO allies over concerns that the systems are not compatible with the alliance's defenses and may threaten the U.S. F-35 fighter jets. Turkey, which was expelled from the jet program over the Russian systems, rejects the concerns.
Erdoğan in June said that he had told U.S. President Joe Biden at their first meeting that Turkey would not change its stance on its S-400s.
In response, a senior U.S. diplomat in July said that Biden is committed to maintaining sanctions on Turkey under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) for buying the systems and would impose further sanctions if Ankara bought additional major arms systems from Moscow.
Turkey suggests cooperating with US against ISIS branch
Despite the split in the S-400 issue, Erdoğan suggested cooperating with the U.S. against the ISIS branch in Afghanistan, which claimed scores of lives in recent attacks during Kabul evacuations.
"I hope that the Biden administration will defeat ISIS-K. Let's carry out this struggle together. We can take steps with them," Erdoğan said.
Turkish intel in talks with the Taliban
The Turkish President also told reporters that the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) is in talks with the Taliban, adding that Ankara would like to help Afghanistan.
Regarding the Taliban's statements after they seized power on Aug. 15, Erdoğan said, "They sound moderate, but we have to be cautious."
"We have certain reservations here. We need to follow the process carefully," he noted.