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Turkey

Turkey’s Albayrak, Trump discuss Russian S-400 issue (update)

FILE PHOTO: A view shows a new S-400 "Triumph" surface-to-air missile system after its deployment at a military base outside the town of Gvardeysk near Kaliningrad, Russia March 11, 2019. REUTERS/Vitaly Nevar/File Photo

ISTANBUL, April 16 (Reuters) – Turkish Finance Minister Berat Albayrak held talks with U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday and he said Trump took a “reasonable” stance regarding Turkey’s planned purchase of a Russian air defence missile system, Turkish media reported.

Ankara’s plan to buy the S-400 system has fuelled tensions between the NATO allies and Washington has said Ankara could face sanctions over the issue. Turkey’s defence minister called on Monday for issues be resolved through dialogue.

Albayrak, who is Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s son-in-law, said he met on Monday Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and White House adviser Jared Kushner, who is Trump’s son-in-law.

“During our meetings, where we discussed steps to increase our cooperation, we were received by U.S. President Donald Trump. We passed on the greetings and messages of our president,” Albayrak wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.

“He listened in a very reasonable way with a positive understanding to the process regarding Turkey’s needs for the S-400s,” broadcaster CNN Turk cited Albayrak as telling reporters. “There was a very positive, constructive conversation.”

Albayrak said on Monday he held very productive meetings in Washington with international financial institutions, following the unveiling last week of Turkey’s economic turnaround plan.

He has been in Washington since last Thursday, his first official visit to the U.S. capital since he took charge of the economy last July. He held a series of investor meetings and attended International Monetary Fund and World Bank spring meetings.

“This is an important week for cooperation between our two nations,” Albayrak told American and Turkish business leaders in Washington. “Since last Thursday … my team and I held series of meetings. We had productive ones with many international finance institutions,” he said.

“Moreover, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and I discussed lots of different topics. … This morning, I had fruitful talks in the White House with my counterparts,” he added, without giving further details.

A day before departing from Turkey, Albayrak unveiled an economic reform package in which Ankara pledged to boost the capital level of banks and relieve bad debts in a sector left reeling by last year’s currency crisis.

Turkey’s economy experienced its worst quarterly contraction in nearly a decade after the currency crisis, which sent inflation soaring as high as 25 percent and left companies and banks saddled with foreign-currency debt.

Jittery international investors have been waiting for the government to signal an unambiguous break from the credit-fueled growth strategy under Erdogan. At a private meeting in Washington last Thursday, investors left unconvinced by Albayrak’s turnaround plan. One emerging fund manager described it as’an absolute sh*t show’.

On Monday, Albayrak said Turkey’s banking system remained ‘well-capitalized’ and continued to offer credit. He said there would be complimentary policy actions after last week’s reform program to boost growth potential.

“There’s never been a better time to invest in Turkey,” he said, adding the United States and Turkey should do more to boost bilateral trade. He acknowledged the two NATO allies had disagreements.

“We need to strengthen our resilience partnership despite our policy differences,” he said.

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