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Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Turkey waiting for US approval for supply of F-16 fighters – Foreign Minister


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Ankara: Turkey is awaiting US approval for a request for the supply of F-16 fighters, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, Cavusoglu visited the United States and met with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. The parties discussed issues of bilateral cooperation, as well as the Ukrainian conflict.

“We will also address significant topics about bilateral defense cooperation. In particular, our F-16 request. And as we said before, this is not only for Turkey but also important for NATO and the United States as well, so we expect approval in the line with our joint strategic interests,” Cavusoglu said at the meeting with Blinken.

In addition, the process of accession of Sweden and Finland to NATO should proceed separately from the deal between Ankara and Washington on F-16 fighters, Cavusoglu noted, commenting on Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto’s statement that the agreement between the US and Turkey on F-16s could contribute to the process of Finland’s accession to NATO.

In April 2021, the United States excluded Turkey from the F-35 program after Ankara purchased Russia’s S-400 air defense systems. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said later that year that Turkey had received a US offer to buy F-16 jets instead, one generation behind the F-35s. The US Congress has been debating whether to include restrictions on the sale of jets in its annual defense spending bill for fiscal 2023, while the US State Department has been trying to convince lawmakers that the deal was aligned with Washington’s interests.

On May 18, three months after Russia launched a military operation in Ukraine, Sweden and Finland applied for NATO membership. Their accession protocols have already been ratified by all NATO members except Hungary and Turkey.


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