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11:13 AM, June 12, 2019
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Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth jet

The letter sent by US Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan on the Russian S-400 missile defense system is "not in spirit of the alliance,” Hulusi Akar, Defense Minister of Turkey said Wednesday.

Shanahan, in a letter to Hulusi Akar dated June 6, stated that the Pentagon has suspended training of new F-35 Turkish pilots. He also told Ankara that the 42 Turkish students attending F-35 training at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona and Eglin Air Force Base in Florida must leave the country by July 31.

“We've suspended some of the activities in terms of training. We haven't suspended any of the maintenance activity," he added.

“Turkey is preparing a response to the letter and that it would be sent to the US in the coming days,” the minister was quoted as saying by Daily Sabah.

He said he would speak to Shanahan on the phone on Thursday and would meet him in Brussels at the end of June during a NATO meeting.

"Tomorrow, I'm hoping that he and I will exchange views and get an update on what kind of progress we've made," Shanahan said Tuesday.

The Pentagon said Tuesday that the US Air Force halted ongoing training of Turkish pilots on the F-35 before the end date for "safety" concerns, the report added.

The US has been pursuing its NATO-ally Turkey to change its course over the purchase of Russian systems.

According to US officials, the S-400s would be incompatible with NATO systems, and it will be compromising with the safety of the F-35 jet that Ankara wanted to acquire.

But, Turkey has emphasized that the S-400 would not be integrated into NATO operability and would not pose a threat to the alliance.

Ankara said it was Washington's initial refusal to sell its Patriot missile system that led it to seek other offers, adding Russia offered a better deal that included technology transfers.

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