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U.S. stops sale of F-35 fighter jets to Turkey over use of Russian defense system

The White House said Wednesday that Turkey can no longer be part of the American F-35 fighter jet program, saying in a written statement that Turkey's decision to buy the Russian S-400 air defense system "renders its continued involvement with the F-35 impossible."

The White House did not say explicitly that Turkey will be kicked out of the F-35 program, but the Pentagon was expected to do so.

"Turkey has been a longstanding and trusted partner and NATO Ally for over 65 years, but accepting the S-400 undermines the commitments all NATO Allies made to each other to move away from Russian systems. This will have detrimental impacts on Turkish interoperability with the Alliance," the statement said.

In a cabinet meeting Tuesday, President Trump expressed sympathy for Turkey, saying that his administration is "working through it."

"Turkey is very good with us, very good," Mr. Trump said, citing the release of an American pastor detained in Turkey last year. "And we are now telling Turkey, because you have really been forced to buy another missile system, we're not going to sell you the F-35 fighter jets."

Turkey makes numerous components for the stealth aircraft. If Turkey is removed, as expected, the U.S. will have to find alternative suppliers. Mr. Trump said Tuesday that "Lockheed isn't exactly happy." Lockheed Martin produces F-35 jets.

It is unclear whether the U.S. will impose economic sanctions on Turkey for its decision.

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