US should do its part on F-16 sales to complete process for Sweden's NATO bid, says Erdogan

No meeting with US President Biden planned, says Recep Tayyip Erdogan: ‘If he calls us, we will talk with him'

14:50 - 8/12/2023 Friday
File photo
File photo

The US should do what is necessary on F-16 sales to complete the process for Sweden's NATO bid, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday.

"If we are two NATO allies, then you should do your part, simultaneously, our parliament will make a necessary decision," Erdogan told journalists on his return flight from a one-day visit to Greece.

"You say that you will take a step on the F-16 issue after it passes through Congress; I also have a parliament. It is not possible for me to take such a step before it passes through my parliament."

Erdogan signed Sweden's NATO accession protocol and submitted it to parliament on Oct. 23. On Nov. 16, parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee postponed consideration of the protocol.

To join the alliance, which Sweden sought after Russia attacked nearby Ukraine, Stockholm has to have the approval of all current NATO members, including Türkiye, a NATO member for over 70 years, and the owner of its second-largest army, after the US.

Türkiye has been pushing Swedish authorities to take concrete steps to alleviate Ankara's security concerns, especially regarding support for the PKK terrorist organization, a group whose decades-long attacks on Türkiye have taken some 40,000 lives.

Türkiye is seeking to purchase from the US the latest model F-16 Block 70 aircraft, as well as 79 modernization kits to upgrade its remaining F-16s to Block 70 level.

- Turkish foreign minister's visit to US

Erdogan said that Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan along with his counterparts assigned by the joint Arab-Islamic extraordinary summit, will visit the US on Friday for talks on Gaza.

The Turkish president hopes Fidan and the members of the Muslim group achieve a result in ending the US' pro-Israel stance on Gaza.

"With this result, they can exert pressure on Israel for peace."

He said there is no planned meeting with US President Joe Biden, adding: "His stance on Gaza is known to us all. If he calls us, we will discuss whatever matters need to be discussed with him directly."

Israel resumed its military offensive against the Gaza Strip on Dec. 1 after the end of a weeklong humanitarian pause with the Palestinian group, Hamas.

At least 17,177 Palestinians have been killed and more than 46,000 others injured in relentless air and ground attacks on the enclave since Oct. 7 following a cross-border attack by Hamas.

The Israeli death toll in the Hamas attack stood at 1,200, according to official figures.

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2 months ago