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Turkey to 'keep promise' on Sweden if US clears F-16 sales

Sep 27, 2023

Istanbul [Turkey], September 27: The Turkish parliament will "keep its promise" to back Sweden's NATO membership bid if the United States clears the path for F-16 fighter jet sales to Turkey, President RecepTayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday, according to state media.
"If they [the US] keep their promises, our parliament too will keep its own promise," Erdogan was quoted as saying by state news agency Anadolu on his flight back from Azerbaijan.
Erdogan said Turkish Foreign Minister HakanFidan and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently negotiated the issue. The parliament in Ankara returns from summer break by the start of October. It was not immediately clear when the house will vote on ratifying Sweden joining NATO. Sweden lacks the approval of Turkey and also Hungary.
After months-long opposition to Sweden's NATO membership over Stockholm's alleged support to groups Ankara considers "terrorist," Erdogan ended his blockade at a NATO summit in Vilnius in July.
US President Joe Biden supports the sale despite a certain opposition in the Congress.
Turkey separately seeks to modernize its existing F-16 fleet. The US excluded Turkey from a project to develop the F-35 fighter jet after Ankara acquired the Russian S-400 missile defence system in 2017.
Turkey's chances of acquiring F-16 fighter jets from the US have been boosted by Sen. Bob Menendez stepping down as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Turkish President RecepTayyip Erdogan said in remarks published Tuesday.
Menendez, the senior Democratic senator for New Jersey, has been a vocal opponent of Turkey receiving aircraft to update its fighter fleet. He stood down from the influential role last week following federal charges that he took cash and gold in illegal exchange for helping the Egyptian government and New Jersey business associates. "One of our most important problems regarding the F-16s were the activities of US Sen. Bob Menendez against our country," Erdogan told journalists on a flight back from Azerbaijan on Monday. His comments were widely reported across Turkish media.
"Menendez's exit gives us an advantage but the F-16 issue is not an issue that depends only on Menendez," Erdogan added.
Referring to talks between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Turkish Foreign Minister HakanFidan in recent days, Erdogan said: "It would be beneficial to turn this situation into an opportunity and meet with (Blinken) again.
"In this way, we may have the opportunity to accelerate the process regarding the F-16s. Not only on the F-16s, but on all other issues, Menendez and those with his mindset are carrying out obstructive activities against us."
"They are already making Sweden dependent on the F-16 . Our parliament follows every development regarding this issue in minute detail."
Source: Qatar Tribune