Turkish FM Fidan talks with Blinken on F-16s, Sweden, grain deal - M5 Dergi
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Turkish FM Fidan talks with Blinken on F-16s, Sweden, grain deal

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Newly appointed foreign minister Hakan Fidan held a meeting over the phone with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday as the two diplomats discussed a wide range of issues, from Sweden’s accession to NATO to acquisition of F-16 fighter jets

Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan held a phone call with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken Thursday as the latter congratulated Fidan for his appointment to the top foreign affairs office of Türkiye.

Two top diplomats discussed an array of issues from the NATO membership bid of Sweden to the normalization process between Türkiye and Armenia as well as Armenia and Azerbaijan, according to a statement by Foreign Ministry. They also discussed Türkiye’s purchase of F-16s as well as their modernization and grain deal Türkiye helped mediate. Both ministers agreed to hold another meeting as soon as possible to discuss the bilateral agenda of the two countries, the ministry said.

Last month, the United States announced they wanted to “move forward” on the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Türkiye. “The president’s position has not changed. We still would like to move forward on that,” said National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby.

NATO member Türkiye has been seeking to modernize its existing fleet of warplanes to update its air force, and sought to buy 40 Lockheed Martin F-16 jets and nearly 80 modernization kits from the U.S. Technical talks between the two sides concluded recently. The Biden administration has said it supports the sale and has been in touch for months with Congress informally to gain its approval.

However, so far it has failed to get the green signal. Some members of Congress objected to the sale, tying its approval to the ratification of NATO membership for Sweden and Finland. Türkiye repeatedly said the request and Sweden’s and Finland’s NATO bids are not linked. The sale of U.S. weapons to Türkiye became contentious after Ankara acquired Russian-made S-400 missile defense systems. The deal triggered U.S. sanctions and Türkiye’s removal from the next-generation F-35 fighter jet program.

The United States is supportive of Türkiye’s initiative to broker a grain deal amid the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Washington welcomed Türkiye’s efforts last month that secured a two-month extension of the deal. Türkiye pursues close ties with both the United States and Russia but is often at odds with Washington on several issues, particularly the former’s “support” for terrorists, namely endorsement of YPG – the Syria branch of the terrorist group PKK – a primary security threat to Türkiye.

The United States also repeatedly draws criticism from Ankara for harboring fugitive members of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), including its leader Fetullah Gülen who lives in Pennsylvania.

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