Erdoğan: US not only way out for Türkiye if talks on F-16 sales fail - M5 Dergi
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Erdoğan: US not only way out for Türkiye if talks on F-16 sales fail

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President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Friday said the process regarding the purchase of F-16 fighter jets was proceeding as planned, yet he reiterated that Türkiye was not without alternatives in case talks with the United States fail.

“At the moment, the opinion of the (U.S.) administration is developing in a positive direction. Of course, the U.S. is not the only way out for us,” Erdoğan told reporters aboard his plane returning from a trip to Azerbaijan.

“If necessary, as with the S-400 systems, we are negotiating alternatives outside of the United States … We have alternatives,” he stressed.

Talks on F-16s are expected to gain pace after two amendments that put conditions on a potential sale to Türkiye were last week reportedly removed from a Senate version of a bill that created a new hurdle for any deal.

The legislation approved by the House of Representatives in July sought to bar the sale to Türkiye unless the Biden administration certifies that doing so is essential to U.S. national security. It also included a description of concrete steps taken to ensure they are not used for “unauthorized overflights” of Greece.

The Democratic chairperson of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Bob Menendez recently vowed to block any F-16 deal until the Turkish president “halts his campaign of aggression against the region.”

Asked about the Senator’s remarks, Erdoğan said: “The statements of senators like Menendez are their own personal opinions, their personal claims. It doesn’t reflect an institutional situation in any way.”

“In addition, their relations with Greece are also the subject of a separate study. Why are they so biased about this?” he added.

Erdoğan said NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg had also stressed that the sale would also be important for the alliance as well.

“The opposition of Menendez alone does not prevent this,” he underlined.

Erdoğan recalled his meeting with two U.S. senators, Lindsey Graham and Chris Coons, on the sidelines of his trip to New York last month. He said he received “positive” feedback from the senators on their potential support for the sale of F-16s.

Ankara has vowed it may consider alternatives, including Russia, if the United States fails to follow through on its promise to deliver F-16s to Turkish air forces.

Türkiye has been seeking to modernize its air fleet and sought to buy 40 F-16 jets and nearly 80 modernization kits from the U.S. Biden has said he supports the sale and that he would work to convince lawmakers to deliver the F-16 jets for Türkiye’s air force.

The sale of U.S. weapons to Türkiye became contentious after Ankara acquired Russian-made S-400 defense missile systems. The deal triggered U.S. sanctions as well as Türkiye’s removal from the F-35 fighter jet program.

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