Thursday, March 30, 2023
HomeWorldUS Congress says Turkey's sale of F-16s is subject to NATO approval

US Congress says Turkey’s sale of F-16s is subject to NATO approval

Washington: The US Congress cannot support the US$20 billion ($28.3 billion) sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey until Ankara ratifies Sweden and Finland’s NATO memberships, a bipartisan official said group of senators.

Sweden and Finland applied to join the Transatlantic Defense Pact last year after Russia invaded Ukraine, but faced unexpected objections from Turkey and have since tried to win their support.

Ankara wants Helsinki and Stockholm in particular to crack down on the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), viewed by Turkey and the European Union as a terrorist group, and another group they blame for a 2016 coup attempt.

A Turkish F16 flies over naval ships during an annual NATO naval exercise on Turkey’s west Mediterranean coast last year.Credit:AP

The three nations agreed on a way forward in Madrid last June, but Ankara suspended talks last month after protests in Stockholm in which a far-right Danish politician burned a copy of Muslims’ holy book, the Koran.

In a letter to President Joe Biden, 29 Democratic and Republican senators said the two Nordic countries are making “full and good efforts” to meet Turkey’s required conditions for NATO membership, though Ankara says Sweden needs to do more .


“Once Türkiye’s NATO accession protocols are ratified, Congress may consider selling F-16 fighter jets. Otherwise, however, this pending sale would be in jeopardy,” the senators wrote.

It was the first time that Congress explicitly and directly linked the F-16 sale to Turkey to the two Nordic countries’ bids for NATO membership.

The Biden administration has repeatedly said it supports the sale and has refused to link the two issues, although acknowledging that ratifying Sweden and Finland’s NATO accession would facilitate the sale process in Congress.

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