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Turkish delegation travels to Washington for F-16 talks

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A technical team from the Turkish Defense Ministry travelled to Washington on Monday to hold talks on the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey, the ministry has announced.

The ministry tweeted on Monday that a technical team from the ministry travelled to the United States to lobby for the acquisition of new F-16s and modernization kits for its existing fleet as soon as possible upon an invitation from the United States.

The ministry said the Turkish and US delegations held three rounds of talks in December, February and March concerning Turkey’s procurement of the F-16s and modernization kits.

After a meeting on the sidelines of the NATO summit in late June with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, US President Joe Biden said the United States should go ahead with the delayed sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey but said Congress needs to give its approval.

“We should sell them the F-16 jets and modernize those jets as well,” Biden said, adding, “I need congressional approval to do that, and I think I can do that.”

The declaration of support from Biden came after Turkey surprised fellow NATO members at a summit in Madrid by suddenly dropping weeks of opposition to the Finland and Sweden’s applications to join the alliance.

A plan to equip Turkey with state-of-the-art US F-35 stealth fighters fell through after Turkey bought Russia’s S-400 anti-aircraft missile system.

Washington saw Ankara’s purchase as potentially threatening the security of the F-35 program.

Turkey next set out to buy new F-16s, as well as obtaining upgrades for its existing, but outdated, fleet of the same planes.

However, that deal is also on hold and there has been speculation that Turkey was holding up the NATO accession bids of the two northern European countries to try and leverage concessions.

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