Biden will do ‘best’ for F-16 sale



ANKARA, Turkey (AP) – US President Joe Biden has said there is only a “fifty-fifty” chance that the US Congress and Senate will approve a Turkish request to purchase F- fighter jets. 16 American-made, but pledged to do “its best” to ensure the sale goes through, the Turkish president said on Monday.

Speaking on his return from the Group of 20 summit in Rome on Sunday evening, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also told reporters on his plane that his meeting with Biden had been “in a very positive atmosphere.” despite the often difficult relationship between the two. NATO allies.

Turkey has been kicked out of a US program to buy F-35 fighter jets while Turkish defense officials have been sanctioned after the country bought Russian-made S-400 missile defense systems. The United States says Russian missiles pose a threat to the F-35 and strongly opposes their use in the NATO alliance.

Turkey wants to recover a $ 1.4 billion payment it made before being kicked out of the F-35 program. Erdogan has previously said the United States is offering to sell F-16 fighter jets to compensate for this.

“As you know, we have a payment of $ 1.4 billion. On this issue, we negotiated the purchase of F-16. I didn’t see any negative attitude from (Biden) in this regard, ”Erdogan said. His comments were reported by pro-government newspaper Yeni Safak and other media.

The Turkish leader went on to quote Biden: “As you know the situation is at fifty-fifty, but I will do my best.”

Erdogan said the two also discussed cooperation in Afghanistan, Syria, Libya and the Eastern Mediterranean, where tensions between NATO allies Greece and Turkey, as well as neighboring Cyprus, escalated in because of competing energy claims. The talks also focused on increased economic and trade cooperation, Erdogan said.

Turkey denies that the Russian missile system poses a security risk, insisting that the S-400s could be used independently without being integrated into NATO systems. The Turkish president also said his country could purchase a second Russian missile system, despite the controversy surrounding the initial purchase.

Turkey and the United States also strongly differ over the role of the Syrian Kurdish fighters who are a key ally of Washington in the battle against the Islamic State group. Turkey considers the fighters to be “terrorists” affiliated with outlaw Kurdish militants fighting inside Turkey, and demands that Washington end its support for the group.

“If we are NATO allies, our NATO partners should not attempt such a thing,” Erdogan said. He reiterated that Turkey was ready to lead another offensive inside Syria to drive out Kurdish militants if the need arose.

Erdogan was due to travel to Glasgow to attend the COP26 climate summit, but instead decided to return to Turkey. He then told reporters that a dispute with Britain over “protocol standards” was the reason for his decision not to attend the summit.

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