Turkey may get F-16 jets

2023-05-31 17:39:17, Kosova & Bota CNA

Turkey may get F-16 jets

Targeting support for Sweden's bid for NATO membership, President Joe Biden signaled a more hands-on approach in dealing with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. As Voice of America correspondent Patsy Widakuswara reports, the newly elected leader of Turkey has been among the most complicated cases in the North Atlantic military alliance.

Thousands of supporters of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan celebrated his victory. World leaders called to congratulate him. Among them is President Joe Biden.

"There continues to be a desire to get something done for the F-16s. I told him that we seek to reach an agreement with Sweden. So, we will make this happen ," said President Biden.

It is the first time that the American president linked the two issues together. Ankara has long sought to buy US F-16 jets, but Congress has blocked the process.

US officials have rejected suggestions of favors being exchanged.

"It is not a prerequisite. President Biden has long been clear that he supports the sale of F-16 aircraft ," said White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.

In response to Russia's attack on Ukraine, Finland and Sweden submitted their application for NATO membership in May 2022.

Membership in NATO must be approved by all member countries. Finland became a NATO member in April, but Sweden's application has been suspended because Ankara believes Stockholm harbors "terrorists," as Turkey calls the militants of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party. .

Officials hope Sweden's membership will be confirmed during a high-level NATO meeting in July.

"We will see somewhat dramatic situations just before the Vilnius meeting. In the end, there is a possibility that it will be decided on the evening of the meeting" , says Asli Aydintasbas, from the Brookings Institute.

Even without the issue of fighter jets, US-Turkey relations will continue to be complicated and practical in nature.

"They are never 100% on our side. We hope that more than 50% will not leave us, but it depends a lot on the Biden-Erdogan relationship. It has been frozen; the phone call is a good first step ," says Ambassador James Jeffrey, from the Wilson Center.

Mr. Erdogan has criticized Russia's attack on Ukraine, but has refused to join Western sanctions against Russia, while expanding trade relations with Moscow./ VOA

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