Ankara hopes that Washington will not fall into the “game” of the legislator on the sales of F-16

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Turkey hopes that the United States will not fall into the “game” played by some American lawmakers against the potential sale of F-16 fighter jets, the country’s defense minister has said, after the House of Representatives approved a bill creating a new obstacle to any Turkish purchase.

Turkey has sought to purchase 40 Lockheed Martin-made F-16 fighter jets and upgrade kits from the United States. President Joe Biden said he supported the sale, and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said he believed it would go through after talks with Biden.

Last week, the House approved legislation that would ban the sale to Ankara unless the administration certifies it is essential to US national security, while also including a description of the concrete steps being taken to ensure that they are not used for “unauthorized overflights” of Greece. .

It is the latest effort by the House, known for its anti-Ankara stance that has repeatedly damaged bilateral relations, to exert control over the sale of the Lockheed Martin plane to Turkey.

Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said talks on the sale were ongoing and Turkey was closely monitoring the process, adding that US officials were aware of the importance of NATO member Turkey. , as an ally in the fight against terrorism and migration.

“So that’s the situation, how can you explain that?” A legislator, a group comes out and shakes things up by some manipulation and misinformation,” Akar told reporters on Monday after a Cabinet meeting in the capital Ankara.

“We expect the United States not to fall for the trap in this game.”

Regarding Greece, Akar said that Athens was trying to influence the agreement reached between the Turkish and American military delegations.

Turkey and NATO members Greece are at odds over a host of issues, from overflights and the status of the Aegean islands to maritime borders, hydrocarbon resources in the Mediterranean and the ethnically divided island of Cyprus.

Tensions have erupted recently over airspace and the status of the demilitarized Aegean islands.

Ankara recently halted bilateral talks with Athens over recent disputes over airspace violations and the status of demilitarized islands in the Aegean Sea, and Erdoğan broke off dialogue with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis over pressure. against the sale of F-16s to Turkey during a visit to Washington. This year.

Erdoğan said Mitsotakis “no longer exists for him” and refused to meet the Greek leader until he “come together”.

Akar rejected all conditions to the possible sale of the jets.

“There shouldn’t be a conditional issue like ‘I’ll give you this, but you won’t do that,'” he said.

“We will continue our work militarily, politically and diplomatically. Our wish is that common sense prevails and that reasonable and logical solutions emerge.

Last month, Biden openly supported the potential sale and upgrade of Turkey’s F-16 fleet, saying the United States should continue the delayed process.

He said he was confident that the necessary congressional approval for the sale could be obtained.

“It’s not in our interest not to sell them,” Biden said on the sidelines of a NATO summit in Madrid.

“We should sell the F-16 to Turkey. I said that in December, and my position hasn’t changed since… We need congressional approval to get there, and I think we will get there.

The process of finalizing the defense bill, known as the NDAA, is a long one, and the Senate will also have to back similar language before it can be sent to Biden’s office for signing into law. Revisions to the bill in its current form are almost certain. The president can veto such legislation.

The decades-old partnership between NATO allies has seen unprecedented turmoil over the past five years due to disagreements over many issues, including Syria and Ankara’s closer ties with Moscow.

Turkey has made a request to buy 40 F-16 fighters made by Lockheed Martin and nearly 80 retrofit kits for its existing fighter jets, in a deal estimated at $6 billion.

The sale of US arms to Turkey became controversial after Ankara acquired Russian-made S-400 missile defense systems, triggering US sanctions as well as Turkey’s withdrawal from the F fighter jet program -35.

The Biden administration has repeatedly signaled its openness to the sale, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who said foreign military sales to key U.S. partners like Turkey should be accelerated and bureaucratic hurdles removed.

In March, the State Department wrote a letter to some members of Congress who had opposed the sale, saying “appropriate” US defense trade ties with Turkey would serve US interests.

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