US envoy expects F-16 aircraft to be sold quickly to Turkey after Sweden signs NATO offer
Written by Jonathan Spicer
ISTANBUL (Reuters) – The U.S. ambassador to Turkey said he expects Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to give the final sign-off on Sweden’s NATO membership within days, leading to quick steps toward U.S. Congress approving the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Ankara. .
In a special interview on Thursday with Ambassador Jeff Flake He said that once the official ratification document is received in Washington, the US State Department will immediately send notification to Congress about the sale of F-16 aircraft.
The Turkish parliament approved Sweden’s application to join NATO on Tuesday, removing a major obstacle to expanding the Western military alliance after 20 months of delay.
Erdogan needs to sign the legislation, which will then be published in the Turkish Official Gazette. Sweden’s instrument of accession must also be sent to Washington.
Asked if he expected that “within days,” Flake, a former Republican member of the US Senate, told Reuters: “Yes, I expect that.”
“I see no reason for Turkey to wait, now that Parliament has moved here,” he said. “So I expect that once this is reported to Washington, Congress will be notified (of the F-16 sales),” he added.
“The president here has to sign it and then the instrument has to be transferred to Washington,” he told Reuters by phone. “Once that happens, we expect that notification will take place. Official notification will take place.”
Erdogan and members of the US Congress had linked Turkey’s support for Sweden’s request in NATO to Congress’ approval to sell Lockheed Martin aircraft and modernization equipment to Turkey worth $20 billion.
US President Joe Biden sent a letter to leaders of key committees on Capitol Hill on Wednesday informing them of his intention to begin the formal notification process for the sale of F-16 aircraft as soon as Ankara completes Sweden’s NATO accession process.
(Reporting by Jonathan Spicer, Editing by Mark Potter)