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Pompeo says Turkey testing Russian defense system ‘concerning’

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo attends the 51st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) - US Ministerial Meeting in Singapore on August 3, 2018. Leaders, ministers and representatives are meeting in the city-state from August 1 to 4 for the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting (AMM). / AFP PHOTO / ROSLAN RAHMAN

Turkey carrying out tests with the Russian defense system it purchased is “concerning,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday but added that talks between Washington and Ankara to resolve the issue were still underway, Reuters reported.

Speaking at a news conference, Pompeo said the United States has made clear to Turkey that Washington wants to see Ankara move away from full operation of the S400 air defense system.

“Yes, it is concerning,” Pompeo said, when asked about reports that Turkish F-16 fighter jets flew over the country’s capital of Ankara on Monday to test its new Russian S-400 missile system.

“We are hopeful. We are still talking to the Turks, still trying to figure out our way through this thing,” he said.

Ankara and Washington have been at loggerheads over Turkey’s purchase of the S-400 system, which Washington says is not compatible with NATO defenses and poses a threat to its F-35 stealth fighter jets, which Lockheed Martin is developing.

US President Donald Trump hosted his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, at the White House earlier this month for a meeting, which Trump described as “wonderful.” However, it was not clear if the two NATO allies made any breakthrough on the S-400 impasse.

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