State Dept. Tells Congress It Has Approved Sale of F-16 Jets to Turkey

State Dept. Tells Congress It Has Approved Sale of F-16 Jets to Turkey

The State Department notified Congress on Friday that it had approved a $23 billion sale of F-16 fighter jets and associated gear to Turkey after the nation’s chief signed paperwork to permit Sweden’s long-delayed entry into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, division officers and the Pentagon stated.

Although Congress may transfer to formally block the sale, 4 senior lawmakers advised the State Department on Friday night that they might not object, after their aides reviewed the paperwork signed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, U.S. officers stated.

Congressional officers had demanded to see the paperwork earlier than signaling their approval of the sale, so the State Department requested Turkey to fly the paperwork to New York on Friday. The division had somebody choose up the paperwork in New York and convey them to Washington by Friday night to indicate the lawmakers.

The division’s subsequent formal notification to Congress means the sale will virtually definitely happen, satisfying Mr. Erdogan’s foremost situation for supporting Sweden’s accession to NATO and doubtlessly serving to bring to a halt an episode that has strained relations between the United States and Turkey.

Turkey was, together with Hungary, one among two NATO members withholding approval of Sweden’s entry into the alliance. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken had undertaken intense diplomacy since final 12 months, together with assembly with Mr. Erdogan in Istanbul this month, to attempt to change the Turkish chief’s thoughts.

Mr. Blinken mentioned the problem with Mr. Erdogan in a go to to Turkey in February 2023, and stated 3 times that Turkey wouldn’t get the F-16s if it refused to approve Sweden’s accession, a U.S. official stated.

The drawn-out course of with Turkey has additionally delayed the sale of F-35 jets to Greece, which turned linked to the F-16s in diplomatic talks as a result of Turkey and Greece are longtime rivals, regardless of each being members of NATO. The State Department additionally formally advised Congress on Friday night time it was going forward with that sale.

Both Sweden and Finland requested to hitch NATO after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, and virtually the entire alliance’s members shortly agreed. Finland joined the alliance in April, however Sweden’s utility languished. While Hungary didn’t increase particular objections, Turkish officers blamed Sweden for harboring Kurds who Turkish officers stated had been terrorists.

The Turkish Parliament voted on Tuesday to allow Sweden to join NATO, and Mr. Erdogan signed that measure into legislation on Thursday.

In trade, the White House made a contemporary endorsement of the F-16 sale in a letter despatched on Wednesday to the highest Democratic and Republican lawmakers on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which have oversight of arms transfers by the State Department to different nations.

The White House urged the 4 lawmakers to present their approval, regardless of their longstanding reservations about a few of Turkey’s overseas insurance policies and army actions, together with its rising airstrikes in northeastern Syria towards Kurdish fighters who’re companions of the U.S. army in its marketing campaign towards the Islamic State.

On Friday night time, Representative Gregory W. Meeks of New York, the highest Democrat on the House committee, stated Mr. Erdogan’s signing of the protocols for Sweden’s accession was “welcome, if overdue, information for the alliance and the broad bilateral relationship.”

The State Department gave the 2 congressional committees casual notification of the F-16 sale greater than a 12 months in the past, beginning the evaluate course of by lawmakers.

Besides asking the division to handle issues over Turkish strikes on the Kurds, lawmakers had additionally needed to see assurances from Turkey that it could de-escalate any tensions with the Greek army within the Aegean Sea.

Senator Benjamin L. Cardin, Democrat of Maryland and the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, praised Turkey’s approval in a press release on Friday night however expressed concern about among the nation’s insurance policies.

“While Turkey performs a crucial position within the area as a NATO ally, there’s an pressing want for enchancment on its human rights report, together with the unjust imprisonment of journalists and civil society leaders, higher cooperation on holding Russia accountable for its invasion of Ukraine and on reducing the temperature in its rhetoric concerning the Middle East,” Mr. Cardin stated.

He additionally criticized Hungary’s “intransigence” on Sweden. Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary promised on Wednesday to get his legislature to approve Sweden’s accession, however gave no timeline for a vote. Mr. Cardin stated Mr. Orban had “proven himself to be the least dependable member of NATO.”

So far, not like Mr. Erdogan, Mr. Orban has not requested for a selected quid professional quo, the U.S. official stated. But the Biden administration is waiting for indicators it would want to have interaction in intense diplomacy with Mr. Orban, too.



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