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Trump Resists Sanctioning Turkey for Its Purchase of the Russian S-400 Air Defense System

July 25, 2019 (EIRNS)—No official statements have been issued following the July 23 meeting between President Donald Trump and 45 Republican Senators to discuss sanctions to punish Turkey for taking delivery of components of the Russian S-400 air defense system. What has leaked out, however, indicates that Trump does not want to impose sanctions on Turkey, while some of the Senators, particularly Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman James Risch of Idaho, were pushing hard for Turkey to be slammed under the 2017 Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

According to the Washington Post, citing unnamed individuals who were there or were briefed on the meeting, Trump appeared to be advocating negotiations with Turkey instead of harsh sanctions—leading to a “robust discussion” and an open dispute between Risch and the President. Furthermore, Trump is reported not to have been all that interested in the sanctions question, spending the first hour of the 90-minute meeting discussing other matters instead, despite the fact that the meeting was expressly called to discuss the sanctions.

According to several Republicans who emerged from the meeting, the discussion focused more on “how we can negotiate with Erdogan,” rather than on imposing sanctions. “What the President’s trying to do is have a much broader approach to this thing,” Sen. David Perdue (R-GA), a Trump ally, said after the White House meeting, suggesting that a sanctions-heavy approach only made sense “if you just look at what Turkey’s trying to do now.”

“Look at the broader issues of the entire region and then what’s going on with other major countries, you might get in a different situation,” Perdue continued. “We’re trying to develop allies in the world.”

“There’s a possibility that you have to bring Russia into some kind of conversation about what their position is in the Middle East—they want trade, they want some kind of commerce with us, too,” Perdue said.

The meeting took place in Washington on the same day that Russia put forward a proposal for a collective security arrangement for the Persian Gulf which may provide the basis for the conversation Perdue suggested to take place.

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