Türkiye hails US move for removing conditions on F-16 sale

Türkiye hails US move for removing conditions on F-16 sale

Türkiye hails US move for removing conditions on F-16 sale

Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Dec. 7 welcomed the U.S. move of removing amendments introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives over the sales of F-16 jets to Türkiye in the final defense spending bill.

“Ultimately, it is a positive development that there is no negative element in the final text of this National Defense Authorization Act, which will be voted on, and we welcome it,” he said at a joint press conference with his Moldovan counterpart, Nicu Popescu.

“The role of Congress is also important here. Therefore, the role of Congress must also be positive,” Çavuşoğlu said.

The minister noted that Ankara was aware of the U.S. move before the media reports and stressed the process must be finalized as soon as possible.

“This law also needs to be approved. Our F-16 purchase and the modernization of the existing ones must now be completed as a procedure,” he added.

Approval of the bill and sales of F-16s to Türkiye would serve “everyone’s interest,” the minister noted.

Türkiye had previously conveyed to the United States that there is no point in buying an F-16 if it is subject to any conditions, Çavuşoğlu said.

A conference committee made up of House and Senate members finalized the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) bill, which includes the 2023 defense budget and removed the conditions, state-run broadcaster TRT reported.

The lawmakers in the U.S. House and Senate said on Dec. 6 that they had reached an agreement on an annual defense policy bill. “We are pleased to announce we’ve come to a bipartisan, bicameral agreement on this year’s National Defense Authorization Act,” the Democratic chairmen and ranking Republicans on the House and Senate armed services committees said in a statement.

The NDAA is expected to pass the Senate and House of Representatives this month and be sent to U.S. President Joe Biden to sign into law.

Upon the Turkish government’s request in late 2021, Ankara and Washington have been negotiating the sale of 40 new F-16 warfighters and 79 modernization kits after Türkiye was excluded from the joint F-35 fifth-generation fighter jet program due to its deployment of Russian S-400 air defense systems.

Türkiye says it needs them to keep its air forces intact to protect its and NATO’s air space on the southern flank of the alliance after its participation in the joint F-35 jetfighter project was ended due to its employment of the Russian S-400 air defense systems.

More than 40 congressmen from both Republican and Democratic parties had opposed this sale through a letter conveyed to the White House in late 2021.

The U.S. administration expressed its support for the Turkish request but underlines that this sale must be endorsed by the U.S. Congress as well.

A State Department letter that was sent to Congress said the administration believed a potential sale of F-16 fighter jets to Türkiye would be in line with U.S. national security interests and would also serve NATO’s long-term unity.

The mid-term elections of the U.S. Congress provided a majority to the Republicans in the House of Representatives, but Democrats could defend the Senate.


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