U.S. and Turkey Agree to Work Toward Deal on Manbij

Three U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning IIs assigned to the 4th Fighter Squadron from Hill Air Force Base Utah conduct flight training operations over the Utah Test and Training Range on Feb 14 2018

Three U.S. senators introduced a measure on Thursday aimed at blocking the transfer of Lockheed Martin's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to Turkey, a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally and one of nine partner nations involved in producing the high-tech, radar-evading aircraft.

Republican Senators James Lankford and Thom Tillis along with Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen introduced the bill on Thursday, to "To limit the transfer of F-35 aircraft to Turkey".

He also pointed out that the future maintenance of European F-35 aircrafts is planned to be done in Turkey and that could be put at risk, too.

In conjunction with Lockheed Martin Corp., the F-35's manufacturer, Turkish defense companies already help produce part of the plane.

"Turkey's strategic decisions regrettably fall more and more out of line with, and at times in contrast to, US interests".

Turkey, a coalition member in the fight against the Islamic State, plans to buy more than 100 F-35As, the conventional takeoff and landing model of the fifth-generation stealth fighter.

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Defense sources in Ankara indicate that Russian Federation is speeding up the delivery date of the missiles upon Turkey's request and that a first batch could be shipped in early 2019 and deployed in a matter of months. Ankara charges that followers of a USA -based cleric, Fethullah Gulen, were behind the coup attempt.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday warned of the "seriousness of US concerns" in a meeting with his Turkish counterpart in Brussels over Ankara's decision to buy Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile batteries, which are not compatible with NATO's defenses.

Last year, Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, proposed an amendment to the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act that would ban the sale of F-35s to Turkey after members of Erdogan's security detail were seen beating protesters outside the Turkish embassy in Washington, D.C.

The State Department official said Pompeo reminded his Turkish counterpart that Ankara could face sanctions if it went through with the S-400 purchase. Brunson denies the allegations.

"President Erdogan´s choice to take hostages and imprison innocent Americans, to try to gain leverage over the United States, is egregious and unlawful", Shaheen said in the statement. The senators voiced concern about Turkey's detention of a USA preacher, Andrew Brunson, a long-time resident of Turkey who was jailed during Turkey's crackdown launched after a military coup attempt in July 2016.

A judge earlier this month sentenced two accomplices in the May 2017 attack to one year and a day in prison.

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