A top U.S. military commander on Thursday commended Turkish military, saying trust in Turkey in military perspective remains strong as ever.
Speaking at a press conference at the Pentagon, U.S. Air Force. Gen. Tod Wolters, NATO’s supreme allied commander for Europe, said the military-to-military relationship with Turkey is palpable today as it has been in the past.
“One of the things that we deeply appreciate in the relationship is the fact that when we, U.S. service members in our act, from an exercise standpoint with our Turkish counterparts, they treat us as brothers in arms, they truly treat you as a bloodline,” said Wolters.
“So, the trust that exists from a military to military perspective is as strong as it has been in the past,” he added.
Wolters said he is tasked by U.S. leadership to “make sure that I can do all that I can in my military reign, to keep the relationship sound.”
“And obviously, as we sit today, turkey is very, very important partner from a NATO perspective. And what they do to enhance the security disposition on the continent remains very, very productive,” he added.
On a question about impact of Turkey’s removal from F-35 jet program by NATO, the U.S. general echoed NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, saying the alliance is a family and may have disagreements.
“And we have to wake up every morning and we have to find a way to get to work in the rain. And, and quite honestly, this activity is one of those things that we have a disagreement on, but we continue to put one foot in front of the other and march forward,” he said.
U.S. President Donald Trump has repeatedly voiced reluctance to penalize Turkey for its purchase of Russia’s S-400 missile defense system — doing so when announcing Ankara’s removal from the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program in July.
The Trump administration has maintained that the S-400 system could expose the advanced fighter to possible Russian subterfuge and is incompatible with NATO systems.
Turkey, however, counters that the S-400 would not be integrated into NATO systems and would not pose a threat to the alliance.
Wolters said Turkey remains a “very, very important” NATO ally. “We’ll see what happens over the course of the time with respect to the stance that the United States has taken and Turkey has taken with respect to the co-location of S-400 and F-35,” he said.
*Servet Gunerigok contributed to the story
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