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Biden administration supports F-16 to sale to Turkey: State Dep’t spokesperson

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US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller has joined other US officials in reiterating the willingness of the administration of US President Joe Biden to sell F-16 fighter jets to Turkey if it gets approval from the US Congress.

Talk of the sale of F-16 jets to Turkey, which has so far remained in limbo due to opposition from some US senators because Turkey was hindering Sweden’s bid to join NATO, was revived after Turkey gave a green light to Sweden’s entry to the alliance following a meeting between President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius one day before the start of a NATO summit there.

Miller was asked during a press briefing on Tuesday about the recent positive signals given by US officials concerning the sale of F-16s to Turkey and whether the US Congress was ready to approve the sale.

Turkey in October 2021 sought to buy 40 Lockheed Martin Corp. F-16 fighter jets and some 80 modernization kits for its existing warplanes. Technical talks between the two sides have been concluded.

While he refused to speak for members of Congress, Miller said: “I will say a few things on behalf of the administration. One, as the National Security Advisor made clear – as the President has made clear – we do support the sale of F-16s to Türkiye. And as the National Security Advisor said today, we will move forward with that sale, which we do understand needs to be approved by key members of Congress.”

US President Biden’s national security advisor, Jake Sullivan, said Tuesday that the US president has “been clear and unequivocal for months that he’s supported the transfer of F-16s,” seeing this as in the interest of NATO.

“He has placed no caveats or conditions on that in his public and private comments over the past few months. And he intends to move forward with that transfer in consultation with Congress.”

Miller also recalled that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has had five conversations with his Turkish counterpart in the past month, including one meeting in person in London.

“The Secretary has had conversations with members of Congress, including Senator Menendez, about this very issue in the past few weeks. I’m not going to characterize those conversations other than to say we have always made clear that we have supported the sale of F-16s to Türkiye, and we will continue to do so,” said Miller.

Meanwhile, US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez, who was against the sale of F-16s to Turkey due to what he said Turkey’s aggression to its neighbors and its objection to Sweden’s NATO bid, softened his stance on Monday after Turkey lifted its objection to Sweden’s NATO membership.

He said there was a temporary “lull” in Turkey’s “aggression against its neighbors” and said he is in talks with the Biden administration about the hold he has on future US sales of F-16 fighter jets to Ankara.

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