Biden administration should not waste $20 billion defence deal and must convey to Congress NATO bids by Finland and Sweden are not linked with fighter jet sale to Ankara, Turkish FM Mevlut Cavusoglu tells his US counterpart Antony Blinken.

Blinken praises Türkiye for some of its actions during Ukraine-Russia war, including mediating landmark Black Sea grain deal.
Blinken praises Türkiye for some of its actions during Ukraine-Russia war, including mediating landmark Black Sea grain deal. (Reuters)

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has said that the United States must approve a $20 billion sale of F-16 fighter jets to Türkiye, saying the planned acquisition is in line with the "joint strategic interests" of both Washington and Ankara.

Cavusoglu said on Wednesday after a meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken that the important thing on the sale of F-16 jets is whether the Biden administration will be determined.

The administration supports the sale but some top members of the US Congress oppose it, and a formal notification of the sale has not yet been sent to lawmakers.

Cavusoglu said the Biden administration should not waste the deal because of objection by some senators and should also convey to Congress that NATO bids by Finland and Sweden is not linked with F-16 sale. 

Blinken is hosting Cavusoglu in Washington for the first time since the Biden administration took office almost two years ago, in a visit during which both sides discussed Ukraine war, F-16 deal, NATO membership for Nordic countries, Syria, Greece, and situation in Afghanistan. 

Speaking before a meeting with Blinken at the State Department, Cavusoglu said the F-16 deal was important not only for Türkiye but for NATO and the United States and appeared confident that it would go ahead.

"So we expect the approval in line with our joint strategic interests," he said.

Ankara had requested F-16s and modernisation kits in October 2021.

The multi-billion dollar deal would include the sale of 40 jets, as well as modernisation kits for 79 warplanes that the Turkish Air Force already has in its inventory.

Türkiye has been a member of NATO for over 70 years and boasts the alliance's second-largest army. 

Türkiye, Finland, and Sweden signed a memorandum this June on the Nordic countries' bids for NATO membership. 

The memorandum requires Finland and Sweden to take steps on Ankara's terrorism concerns, including the extradition of terror suspects, and to lift an arms embargo.

In return, Türkiye would allow the Nordic countries to become NATO members.

READ MORE: Biden admin conveys decision to US Congress on sale of F-16 jets to Türkiye

READ MORE:Türkiye wants to see 'concrete steps' from US on F-16 sales: Akar

Fight against terror groups 

The Turkish top diplomat also voiced concerns over the situation in Syria and said Ankara is determined to eliminate PKK/YPG and FETO terror groups. 

Türkiye is ready to cooperate with US to refocus on Syria but it has not kept some of its previous promises, he said.

Cavusoglu reminded Blinken that Washington had promised in 2019 to keep PKK/YPG terror group 30 km away from Türkiye-Syria border — a promise US did not keep.

In its more than 35-year terror campaign against Türkiye, the PKK — listed as a terrorist organisation by Türkiye, the US, and EU — has been accused of killing 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants. The YPG is its Syrian branch.

FETO orchestrated a defeated coup in Türkiye on July 15, 2016 in which 252 people were killed and 2,734 others wounded. 

Calling his meeting with Blinken "fruitful," Cavusoglu said Türkiye proposed the US to hold "Türkiye-US Strategic Mechanism" meetings at least twice yearly.

He said he also invited Blinken to visit Türkiye and attend the Antalya Diplomacy Forum in March.

Asked about the sale of F-35 jets to Greece, the Turkish foreign minister said the US policy of balance between Türkiye and Greece has "deteriorated."

Every [US] support given to Athens leads to surge in provocative Greek policies, Cavusoglu said.

READ MORE: Final US defence policy bill removes curbs on F-16 sale to Türkiye

READ MORE:Türkiye: Process to acquire F-16 jets from US continues

Source: Reuters