ADDS MORE REMARKS FROM KALIN
By Kubra Chohan
ANKARA (AA) – Turkey is not a country that can be easily dispensed with, said the Turkish presidential spokesman on Tuesday.
“Everyone should know. It may be the [F-35 fighter jets] or other issues. Turkey is not without alternatives,” said Ibrahim Kalin, responding to U.S. threats to impose sanctions or halt weapons sales to Turkey.
“The U.S. using threatening language, using an ongoing legal issue as an excuse is unacceptable,” Kalin told reporters at the presidential complex.
“Everyone has to respect the ongoing legal procedure on the Pastor Brunson issue,” Kalin said.
Turkish-U.S. relations soured after President Donald Trump threatened to impose sanctions on Turkey over American Pastor Andrew Craig Brunson, who was arrested in December 2016 on terrorism-related charges.
His charges include spying for the PKK — listed as a terrorist group by both the U.S. and Turkey — and the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), the group behind the defeated coup attempt in Turkey of July 2016.
The U.S. Congress has also tried to halt the sales of F-35 jets, citing the arrests of U.S. citizens in Turkey and Turkey's purchase of Russian S-400 missile defense systems.
Pointing out that both sides signed contracts for the sale, Ankara has responded that even if the F-35 sale were cancelled, Turkey has other alternatives.
Kalin also said that Turkey is not expecting the recent tensions to have a negative effect on the roadmap between the two countries for the northern Syrian city of Manbij, and that they have not.
“The Manbij plan continues to be implemented as designed. It has a certain calendar and elements. These are being carried out step by step,” he added.
“Our fight against against terror threats originating from Syria will continue with determination.”
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will announce his 100-day action plan on Aug. 3, Kalin announced.
He added: “A strategic plan for the 2019-2023 period will be prepared by November.”