UPDATE – Economy should be stabilizer in US-Turkish ties: Turkey

            ADDS DETAILS THROUGHOUT </p>  <p>By Michael Hernandez</p>  <p>WASHINGTON (AA) - Economic ties should serve as the &quot;main stabilizer&quot; between the U.S. and Turkey, Turkey's finance minister said Monday.</p>  <p>Addressing a gathering of business leaders in the U.S. capital, Berat Albayrak said financial ties between the countries must &quot;be just as robust as our traditional security partnership&quot;.</p>  <p>&quot;They should play a more active role in determining the future of the relationship between the two countries. I realize this is easier said than done. But I want to assure all of you that this is our vision,&quot; Albayrak said, acknowledging that the &quot;historical depth and institutional strength of the security alliance&quot; has been the &quot;linchpin&quot; in bilateral relations.</p>  <p>Albayrak noted existing strains in bilateral relations between the NATO allies but said they should not &quot;prevent us from looking to the future with a positive outlook&quot;.</p>  <p>&quot;Let us avoid threats of sanctions and games of brinkmanship and work on creating a realistic yet positive agenda,&quot; he said. </p>  <p>Tensions between the U.S. and Turkey have reached a fever pitch in recent months with Turkey set to begin receiving the advanced S-400 Russian surface-to-air missile system that Washington has said will jeopardize Turkey's role in the F-35 fifth-generation fighter jet program and which could trigger congressional sanctions. </p>  <p>The U.S. has already suspended deliveries of parts and services related to Turkey's receipt of the multi-million dollar jets.</p>  <p>Following protracted efforts to purchase an air defense system from the U.S. with no success, Ankara decided in 2017 to purchase the Russian S-400 system.</p>  <p>U.S. officials have advised Turkey to buy the U.S. Patriot missile system rather than the S-400s from Moscow, arguing that the Russian system would be incompatible with NATO systems and expose the F-35 to possible Russian subterfuge.</p>  <p>Turkey, however, has emphasized that the S-400 would not be integrated into NATO operability and therefore would not pose a threat to the alliance.</p>  <p>&quot;There is no change in Turkey’s commitment to NATO,&quot; Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said earlier Monday at the American-Turkish Council's annual conference.</p>  <p>Another area of concern for both sides is the plan for a safe zone along the Turkish-Syrian border.</p>  <p>In December, U.S. President Donald Trump suddenly announced the withdrawal of American troops from Syria. However, since then, Washington has backtracked and said in February a few hundred troops would remain for peacekeeping efforts and to create an international peacekeeping zone.</p>  <p>The U.S. has also mentioned that the safe zone would not include the YPG, the Syrian offshoot of the PKK -- a designated terrorist organization in the U.S. and Turkey.</p>  <p>&quot;A possible safe zone should address Turkey's national security concerns,&quot; Akar said.