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Turkish delegation says US lawmakers were 'positive' sales of F-16 jets

Turkish delegation says US lawmakers were 'positive' sales of F-16 jets
Delegation holds talks for 2nd time with US counterparts discussing issues, including F-16 jets

By Dildar Baykan Atalay

WASHINGTON (AA) - A Turkish lawmaker visiting the US capital said Friday that congressional members his delegation met were "positive" during talks on modernization of the fleet of Türkiye's F-16 fighter jets.

Justice and Development (AK) Party Deputy Chair in charge of Foreign Affairs, Efkan Ala, led a Turkish delegation that included Akif Cagatay Kilic, head of the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Commission, Osman Askin Bak, chair of the Turkish delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, Volkan Bozkir, AK Party Istanbul deputy and Mehdi Eker, AK Party Diyarbakir deputy.

During a news conference at the Turkish Embassy, Ala said the delegation discussed bilateral and regional issues, including the F-16 fighter jet sales with two senators and 17 Democrat and Republican representatives.

They last visited the Congress in May.

Ala said Türkiye's diplomatic efforts during the conflict between Russia and Ukraine were welcomed by their US counterparts. He was referring to a grain deal brokered by Ankara and the UN, and Türkiye's role in a prisoners swap between Russia and Ukraine earlier this month.

"For this reason, it is once known how necessary the F-16 modernization and supply package demanded by Türkiye is for our country's security, NATO's deterrence and the stability of our region," Ala told reporters.

"As in the meetings of our President (Recep Tayyip Erdogan) with some members of Congress in New York, the members of Congress we met here gave positive messages regarding the modernization of our country's F-16 fleet," he said, referring to Erdogan's talks on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting.

Ala said Senator Bob Menendez, who serves as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, introduced a bill conditioning sales of the F-16 to Türkiye on relations with Greece in the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act.

"We deem this amendment, which binds the sale of F-16s to Türkiye to our bilateral relations with another NATO ally, unfair and baseless," said Ala.

He also urged Congress to maintain a "fair and equal" stance toward two NATO allies -- Türkiye and Greece -- and to respect Türkiye's sensitivity on Aegean Sea issues.

"We believe that the positive outcome of the F-16 procurement process will have a positive impact on reestablishing trust between the parties and resolving our current disputes," he added.

Ankara requested F-16s and modernization kits last October. The $6 billion deal would include the sale of 40 jets and modernization kits for 79 warplanes that the Turkish Air Force has in its inventory.

In July, however, the US House of Representatives approved legislation creating a new hurdle for the sale.

It prohibits the sale unless President Joe Biden certifies the transfer is in US national interests and guarantees to Congress that in the 120 days before the transfer, the Turkish government has not "violated the sovereignty of Greece, including through territorial overflights."

Türkiye has made it clear that Greece-related conditions are not "binding" and expressed hope that the US would not fall for such “games.”

*Servet Gunerigok contributed to the story

source: News Feed
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