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Reuters: White House urges Congress to approve F-16 sale to Turkey

by Martin Fornusek and The Kyiv Independent news desk January 25, 2024 8:45 AM 2 min read
U.S. Air Force F-16 fighter jets fly in formation during U.S.-Philippines joint air force exercises dubbed Cope Thunder at Clark Air Base on May 9, 2023, in Mabalacat, Philippines. (Ezra Acayan/Getty Images)
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U.S. President Joe Biden sent a letter to Congress committees on Jan. 24, saying he intends to launch the process for the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey once Ankara finalizes Sweden's NATO admission process, Reuters reported, citing undisclosed sources.

The news came after Turkey's parliament voted to approve Sweden's accession to the alliance on Jan. 23, leaving the final sign-off by the Turkish president as the last remaining step. Turkey had dragged out the process of Sweden's entrance into NATO for more than a year since Stockholm initially applied in May 2022.

In a letter sent to leading Republican and Democratic members of the foreign affairs committees in both chambers of Congress, Biden asked lawmakers to approve the sale "without delay," Reuters said, citing a U.S. official.

Turkey requested to buy $20 billion worth of F-16 aircraft and nearly 80 modernization kits for its existing warplanes from the U.S. in October 2021. The Turkish Air Force currently operates around 240 F-16 fighter jets.

The finalization of the deal has been delayed as it became linked to Turkey's approval of Stockholm's entry to NATO.

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Both Sweden and Finland applied to join the Alliance in May 2022 due to Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Turkey initially blocked both of their bids but gave the green light to Helsinki in March 2023.

Ankara said it had opposed Sweden's admission due to the Nordic country's alleged support for Kurdish groups that Turkey considers to be terrorists, which Sweden denies.

Turkish opposition began to weaken last July when the country's president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said he would forward Stockholm's bid to the Turkish parliament after Sweden had agreed to address Turkey's "legitimate security concerns."

Nevertheless, the Turkish parliament has continued to delay the ratification until earlier this week.

After Turkey, Hungary remains the last obstacle to Sweden's admission. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban told NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Jan. 24 that Budapest supports Stockholm's entry.

F-16s for Ukraine: When will they arrive and what can they do?
The General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon is an American air superiority fighter that Kyiv has begged for since the start of the full-scale invasion and is expected to finally start receiving this year. It’s a versatile workhorse of a jet that’s fought in dozens of wars and is

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