“We will not proceed as the condition of the congressional authorization to make the offer to Turkey, we’re not in a condition to proceed with the Patriot sale if the S-400 sale goes forward, “said the official on condition of anonymity.
“We are very concerned that the Turkish purchase of S-400 missiles will endanger Turkish participation in the F-35 program and will likely result through our legislation in some sort of sanctions coming through the legislations called CAATSA,” the official stated, elaborating on recent talks between Ankara and Washington at which the latter brought forward a proposal for the procurement of the Patriots.
The U.S. has formally made an offer to Turkey for the sale of the multibillion dollar Patriotair defense systems in January in a bid to increase its pressure on the latter’s purchase of the Russian-made S-400 systems. But Turkey says it would buy Patriot systems from the U.S. but not on the condition of cancelling the S-400 systems from Russia.
US warns against gold trade with Venezuela
The United States and Turkish governments had a number of conversations regarding Venezuela and the former “encouraged the Turkish government to join the community of democracies that are supporting the interim president [Juan] Guaido,” said the official.
A part of these conversations were on the issue of U.S. sanctions against gold trade with Venezuela, the official said and added: “If I were a Turkish gold trader and I thought it might be good to buy gold from Venezuela at this moment in time, I would be extraordinarily careful about doing that. Because, it seems unwise.”
Asked if the current Turkish gold transactions would be subject to U.S. sanctions, the official noted that he is not an expert on the issue but added that the U.S. urges all companies, including the Turkish ones, asking consultancy from the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) whether their trade would be subject to U.S. sanctions.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government began selling gold about a year ago after falling oil production, an economic collapse and mounting U.S. sanctions hit public income in the OPEC-member nation and made it hard for it to access credit. A Turkish firm bought 23.9 tons of gold last year, opposition legislator in Venezuela Carlos Paparoni told a news conference on Feb. 6.
State department map was a result of mistake
The U.S. official also clarified a mistake made by the State Department for the map which mentioned countries supporting the interim president of Venezuela, but only displayed wrong territory for Turkey.
“The department of state printed out a map that got a number of countries’ boundaries wrong including Turkey, including Canada and some others. It was a mistake,” said the official.
Elaborating on recent talks in Washington for the U.S.-Turkey working group on Syria, the official defined the meeting as “productive, constructive and positive.”
The U.S. withdrawal will happen “there is no doubt about that” and the withdrawal will happen in the context of completing the fight against ISIL, he noted.
“We are trying to address seriously the Turkish security concerns and we have concerns of our own that we are working with our Turkish partners,” said the official, referring to Turkey’s objection for the YPG presence in the east of Euphrates.
US seeks peaceful solutions for Turkey’s security concerns
Meanwhile, the U.S. official recalled the Turkish government’s desire is not to see the Syrian regime exercise or influence authority in those parts of north Syria where the U.S. withdraws from. “We will support that my government is having real concerns about the regime and its role,” said the official.
Asked about Turkey’s warning for a possible military offensive if the U.S. fails to meet the Manbij road map in east Euphrates, the official noted that the U.S. is aware of the Turkish government’s “impatience” and its “very legitimate security concerns about what north Syria looks like in the context of the U.S. withdrawal.”
Officials from the two NATO allies are discussing “to find peaceful ways to address these concerns rather than have to see that sort of offensive,” the official stated.