April 2, 2019 / 5:33 AM / in 18 days

Turkish lira weakens after U.S. halts F-35 equipment delivery

ISTANBUL, April 2 (Reuters) - The Turkish lira weakened more than 1 percent against the dollar early on Tuesday after the United States halted delivery of equipment related to the F-35 fighter aircraft to Turkey.

At 0519 GMT, the lira stood at 5.5550 against the U.S. currency, compared with a close on Monday of 5.4913.

The lira has been volatile in the uncertain aftermath of local government elections, weakening 2.5 percent on Monday to 5.7 per dollar before recovering ground.

In Istanbul, both the main opposition Repulican People’s Party (CHP) and President Tayyip Erdogan’s AK Party claimed victory in the mayoral elections. Later, both candidates said CHP’s Ekrem Imamoglu was around 25,000 votes ahead.

The disagreement over the F-35 is the latest of a series of diplomatic disputes between the United States and Turkey, foremost among which are Turkish demands that the United States extradite Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, differences over Middle East policy and the war in Syria, and sanctions on Iran.

U.S. officials have told their Turkish counterparts they will not receive further shipments of F-35 related equipment needed to prepare for the arrival of the stealthy fighter aircraft, sources told Reuters on Monday.

Washington’s step to block the delivery of the jet comes amid fears, harbored by the United States and other NATO allies, that radar on the Russian S-400 missile system will learn how to spot and track the F-35, making it less able to evade Russian weapons.

Reporting by Ezgi Erkoyun and Sarah Dadouch; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

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