Sweden's NATO accession and Türkiye's bid to buy F-16 jets should be kept separate - Erdogan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

© APA | Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

# 11 September 2023 20:00 (UTC +04:00)

U.S. President Joe Biden's administration is linking F-16 fighter jet sales to Türkiye with Turkish ratification of Sweden's NATO membership bid, and this "seriously upsets" Ankara, President Tayyip Erdogan said, APA reports citing Reuters.

Addressing a press conference after a G20 summit in the Indian capital New Delhi, Erdogan said he had a "pull-aside" meeting with Biden on the sidelines of the gathering and they discussed the transfer of F-16s to Türkiye.

Biden made a connection between the supply of F-16s and Turkish action in ratifying Sweden's application to join NATO, Erdogan said. "This approach seriously upsets us," he said.

Türkiye, which had been the main stumbling block in Sweden's path towards NATO, asked in October 2021 to buy $20 billion worth of Lockheed Martin Corp's F-16s and nearly 80 modernisation kits for its existing warplanes.

After months of objections, Erdogan agreed at a NATO summit in July to forward Sweden's NATO bid to the Turkish parliament for ratification.

A day later, U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said Washington would proceed with the transfer of F-16s to Türkiye in consultation with Congress.

However, the timing of both the F-16 transaction and the Turkish parliament's green light for Sweden remains unclear.

"If you say that Congress will decide (on sales of F-16s to Türkiye), then we have a Congress in Türkiye as well - it is the Turkish parliament," Erdogan told reporters. "It is not possible for me to say 'yes' (to Sweden's NATO membership bid) alone unless such a decision is approved by (our) parliament."