The defense chiefs of Turkey and the US held a phone call on April 1, discussing regional security and bilateral defense cooperation.
Following the phone call, U.S. Department of Defence issued a readout saying Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin had told his Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar “not to retain the Russian S-400 missile defense system.”
“Secretary Austin and Minister Akar discussed the instability along NATO's Eastern and Southern Flanks, including challenges posed by Russia. Secretary Austin noted the importance of working to strengthen U.S.-Turkey military-to-military cooperation, and urged Turkey not to retain the Russian S-400 missile defense system,” the Pentagon release said.
I just got off the phone with Turkish Minister of National Defense Hulusi Akar. I thanked Turkey for its role in the Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan, and for its coordination with USS Monterey and USS Thomas Hudner in recent exercises in the Black Sea. pic.twitter.com/LXmcrq0p2g— Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III (@SecDef) April 1, 2021
The Turkish Defense Ministry also released a statement with regards to the phone talk, but did not mention the S-400 issue.
The two defense chiefs “exchanged views regarding regional security and bilateral defense cooperation” and “re-affirmed commitment to closer cooperation and coordination while strengthening military-to-military relations,” the Turkish Defense Ministry's statement said.
Minister of National Defence Hulusi Akar held a telephone conversation with US Secretary of Defence Lloyd James Austin today. During the phone call, views were exchanged regarding regional security and bilateral defence cooperation.https://t.co/JdYTt88ygN pic.twitter.com/we3yBThNUA— T.C. Millî Savunma Bakanlığı (@tcsavunma) April 1, 2021
Ankara and Washington have been at odds over issues including Syria policy, human rights and the S-400 air defense acquisition, over which the United States has sanctioned Turkey and removed it from its F-35 fighter jet program.
In March, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said he told U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken that Ankara's purchase of Russian air defenses was "a done deal."
"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," Çavuşoğlu told reporters on March 24 in Brussels after their first face-to-face meeting since Blinken took office.
The U.S. State Department said Blinken had "urged Turkey not to retain the Russian S-400 air defense system." Washington has repeatedly rejected a working group to discuss the S-400s.