US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is working to convince Turkey to "rejoin NATO" by better reflecting NATO's goals, following years of divergence with the US, Washington Examiner reported.
“They have been an important NATO partner,” Pompeo told the House Foreign Affairs Committee during a Wednesday hearing. “We need their behavior to reflect the objectives of NATO, and that’s what we’re diligently working to do: to get them to rejoin NATO, in a way, with their actions, consistent with what we’re trying to achieve in NATO. And not take actions that undermine its efforts.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has not hesitated to lambast the U.S. during former President Barack Obama and President Trump’s administrations. His team blamed the U.S. for a failed coup, which was followed by American criticism of Turkish human rights abuses as
Erdogan cracked down on dissidents — including one violent incident in Washington, D.C.
Disagreements over the counter-Islamic State strategy in Syria led Turkey to attack U.S. partners in the country, at risk of a conflict with American special forces.
“I hope we can bring up this subject of [Turkey] being a bad child of NATO,” Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, told Pompeo.
“For a 'friend,' they are very problematic,” Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said of Turkey last week.
Turkey has agreed to purchase S-400 Russian anti-aircraft defense systems, in defiance of U.S. sanctions on Russia’s defense industry. The deal, if completed, would be a major step away from cooperation with NATO militaries. It might even result in the U.S. refusing to provide F-35s to Turkey, which would exclude the ally from a cutting-edge stealth fighter system.
Pompeo said he hasn’t made a final decision about whether he would approve a sale of F-35s.
“We continue to work to keep the Turks in a place where they don’t actually acquire the S-400,” he said. “We don’t believe they have it yet, and we’re hopeful they’ll never take possession.”