May 15, 2019 / 9:14 PM / 9 days ago

U.S. House members criticize Turkey over Russia ties

WASHINGTON, May 15 (Reuters) - Senior Democrats and Republicans in the House of Representatives called on Turkey on Wednesday to cancel its planned acquisition of a Russian S-400 missile defense system, the latest effort by U.S. lawmakers to discourage Ankara from pursuing the deal.

They introduced a resolution urging Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan to avoid a military relationship with Russia that could jeopardize the U.S.-Turkey partnership and Turkey's role in NATO.

"Cozying up to (Russian President) Vladimir Putin is unacceptable," Democratic Representative Eliot Engel, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement.

U.S. officials have urged Turkey to cancel its purchase of the S-400 system or risk its position as both a prospective buyer and partner in production of the Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jet. They say Turkey's plan to buy the S-400 would compromise the security of the jets and want Ankara to buy a U.S. missile defense system instead.

Members of Congress have tried a variety of approaches to convince Turkey to cancel the sale, including introducing legislation that would bar the federal government from spending any money to deliver any F-35 jets to Turkey.

The resolution was introduced by Representatives Steny Hoyer, the No. 2 House Democrat, and Kevin McCarthy, the chamber's top Republican, as well as Engel and Michael McCaul, the top Foreign Affairs Republican, Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey and ranking Republican Key Granger, as well as Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler and ranking Republican Doug Collins.

Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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