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Erdoğan says Republican control of US Senate would help Turkey’s F-16 purchase

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Turkey’s efforts to complete its purchase of F-16 fighter jets would be “much easier” if the Republicans end up controlling the US Senate, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was quoted as saying by the state-run Anadolu news agency.

Turkey made a request to the United States in October 2021 to buy 40 Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter jets and some 80 modernization kits for its existing fleet to update its air force after the purchase of F-35s fell through.

“I hope that next month there will be some good news and we will go in a very positive direction on the issue of the F-16s,” Erdoğan told reporters on a flight from Uzbekistan.

“If the Republicans claim the few seats they need in the Senate, things will be much easier for us,” the president said.

With two races still to be decided, the Democrats are just one seat short of maintaining control of the US Senate after incumbent Mark Kelly’s victory in Arizona on Friday.

While there are critics and supporters of the Turkish F-16 purchase in both parties, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez, who has repeatedly criticized Erdoğan’s human rights record in Turkey, could stand in the way.

Erdoğan said in September that he had received “positive” feedback from two US senators he met with in New York regarding their possible support for the F-16 purchase. Erdoğan’s spokesman recently stated that the purchase could be completed as early as next year.

Sentiment toward Turkey in the US Congress has turned sour over the past few years after Ankara acquired a Russian-made defense missile system, triggering US sanctions and Turkey’s removal from the F-35 fighter jet program.

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