U.S. President Donald Trump met with Republican senators Tuesday at the White House to discuss Turkey’s purchase of Russia’s S-400 air defense system.
The meeting with 45 senators, including Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz, Mitch McConnell, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Todd Young, lasted 90 minutes.
They reportedly discussed the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), a federal law concerning potential sanctions against Turkey over its Russian missile purchase.
The White House has yet to issue a statement.
On Thursday, Trump made a series of contradictory remarks on whether the U.S. will impose sanctions on Turkey.
He initially said that sanctions are not under consideration "right now" before later telling reporters "we’re looking at it".
The president said the situation is "very very difficult" and blamed his predecessor, former President Barack Obama, for the row.
Last week, the Trump administration began the process of removing Turkey from the F-35 fighter jet program over its acquisition of the S-400 system in a major rift with a key NATO ally. The expulsion is slated to be completed by the end of March 2020.
Following protracted efforts to purchase an air defense system from the U.S. with no success, Ankara signed a contract in 2017 to purchase the S-400s from Russia.
U.S. officials argued the Russian system would be incompatible with NATO systems and expose the F-35s to possible Russian subterfuge.
Turkey, however, emphasized the S-400 would not be integrated into NATO systems and would not pose a threat to the alliance.
It urged the formation of a working group to clarify any technical issues, but the U.S. failed to respond to this proposal.
The U.S. threatened sanctions over the purchase, with Turkey responding that any sanctions would be met in kind.
The delivery of S-400 components began on July 12 and is set to continue through April 2020.
By Servet Gunerigok in Washington, D.C.