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Turkey says Shanahan letter on F-35s not in line with spirit of alliance

U.S. Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan welcomes Turkish Minister of Defense Hulusi Akar to the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., February 22, 2019. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – The language used in a letter sent from Washington to Ankara regarding Turkey’s removal from the F-35 fighter jet program does not suit the spirit of alliance, Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said on Wednesday.

U.S. acting Secretary of Defence Patrick Shanahan’s letter to his counterpart, seen by Reuters, had outlined how Turkey would be pulled out of the F-35 fighter jet program unless Ankara changes course from its plans to purchase a Russian missile defence system.

Akar, cited by the defense ministry in a statement, also said Turkey is preparing a response to the letter and that it would be sent to the U.S. in the coming days. He added that he would hold a phone call with Shanahan on Thursday.

Reporting by Daren Butler; Writing by Ali Kucukgocmen; Editing by Humeyra Pamuk

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