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US willing to 'move forward' on F-16 jet sales to Turkiye

 Published: 12:25, 25 May 2023

US willing to 'move forward' on F-16 jet sales to Turkiye

The United States wants to "move forward" regarding the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkiye, according to the US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby.

"The president's position has not changed. We still would like to move forward on that," Kirby said when asked if the White House has received any indication from Congress ahead of the second round of Turkish presidential elections Sunday.

"My recommendation would be to maybe talk to Senator (Bob) Menendez’s office or folks on the (Capitol) Hill to talk about what their expectations are," he said. "All I can do is speak for the president and nothing's changed about his desire to move forward on it, on the F-16s."

NATO member Türkiye has been seeking to modernize its existing warplanes to update its air force and sought to buy 40 Lockheed Martin F-16 jets and nearly 80 modernization kits from the U.S. Technical talks between the two sides recently concluded.

The Biden administration has said it supports the sale and has been in touch for months with Congress on an informal basis to win its approval. However, it has failed so far to secure a green light.

Some members of Congress objected to the sale, tying its approval to the ratification of NATO membership for Sweden and Finland.

Turkiye repeatedly said the request and Sweden’s and Finland's NATO bids are not linked.

Although Turkiye approved Finland's membership to NATO, it is still waiting for Sweden to abide by a trilateral memorandum signed last June in Spain to address Turkiye's security concerns.

The sale of U.S. weapons to Turkiye became contentious after Ankara acquired Russian-made S-400 defense missile systems. The deal triggered U.S. sanctions and Turkiye’s removal from the next-generation F-35 fighter jet program.