Biden says discussed F-16s and Sweden with Turkey’s Erdogan

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US President Joe Biden said on Monday that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stressed his country’s interest in buying F-16 fighter jets, while he emphasized Washington’s keenness to see Ankara abandon its opposition to Sweden's NATO membership.

Biden told reporters: “I spoke to Erdogan. I congratulated Erdogan. He still wants to work out something on the F-16s. I told him we wanted to deal with Sweden, so let's get that done. And so we'll be back in touch with one another… We're going to talk more about it next week.”

The White House said Biden called Erdogan to congratulate him on his re-election and the two “expressed their shared commitment to continue working together as close partners to deepen cooperation between [the two] countries and people.”

“They also discussed their readiness as NATO Allies to address regional and global challenges, including strengthening transatlantic security at the NATO Summit in Vilnius,” the White House said.

The Turkish presidency did not provide details of the phone call and vaguely said: “Noting the growing importance of the Turkey-US relations in the face of regional and global challenges, the two leaders agreed on enhancing the cooperation between the two countries in every area in the new period.”

Tensions between the two NATO allies have been high with several issues of contention on the table including Turkey's pursuit of a $20 billion purchase of F-16 fighter jets which has encountered delays due to objections raised by the US Congress, despite the Biden administration expressing support for the sale.

Additionally, Sweden and Finland have formally applied for NATO membership, a significant shift from their previous policies of military non-alignment, prompted by Russia's invasion of Ukraine. However, their bids require the approval of all NATO member states. While Turkey ratified Finland's NATO accession in late March, it has raised objections to Sweden's membership, alleging that Stockholm provides sanctuary to individuals affiliated with groups it deems terrorist organizations. With the NATO leaders summit scheduled for mid-July in Lithuania, the inclusion of Sweden in the alliance has emerged as a top priority for the US.

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