United States Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin discussed support for Turkey’s military modernization in a phone call with Turkish Defense Minister Yasar Guler, the Pentagon said Monday.
This comes after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed to send Sweden’s accession protocol for NATO membership to parliament for approval.
The US stance on Turkey’s military modernization
The administration of US President Joe Biden supports Turkey’s desire to buy 40 new Lockheed Martin Corp F-16 fighter jets with modernization kits for its current warplanes from the US.
“I am ready to work with President Erdogan and Turkey to improve defense and deterrence in the Euro-Atlantic area,” Biden said on Monday.
However, some in Congress, led by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez, opposed Turkey’s move to block NATO membership for Sweden, its human rights record and its relationship with Greece, among others. concerns.
Mendez, a Democrat, said he “continues to have reservations” about providing fighter aircraft to Turkey.
“If they (Biden’s Administration) can find a way to ensure that Turkey’s aggression against its neighbors stops, which has slowed down in the past months, that would be good but there must be a permanent reality.”
Menendez added that there must be a way to “improve Greece’s security” and get “certainties about future actions.”
What Turkey says about F-16 jets from the US
Meanwhile, Turkish President Erdogan said on Monday that his country’s approval of Sweden’s NATO membership bid and the sale of F-16 jets will not be linked to each other.
He made the comments before leaving for the NATO summit in Vilnius.
Erdogan is expected to hold further talks with Biden at the meeting on the purchase of F-16 fighters.
dvv/rt (AFP, AP, Reuters, dpa)