President Biden despatched a letter to 4 senior members of Congress on Wednesday urging them to rapidly approve a $20 billion sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey, following the vote one day earlier by Turkey’s Parliament to permit Sweden to affix the North Atlantic Treaty Group, in accordance with three U.S. officers.
The White Home despatched the letter to the highest Democratic and Republican lawmakers on the Senate International Relations Committee and the Home International Affairs Committee, which have oversight of arms transfers by the State Division to different nations. As of Wednesday night time, the 4 senior lawmakers had not given their approval, and a number of of them may ask the Biden administration to offer assurances about Turkey’s actions on some overseas coverage points earlier than agreeing to the switch, a congressional official mentioned.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, a member of NATO, has linked his nation’s approval of Sweden’s accession to the safety group to the F-16 gross sales, which had been pending. Each Sweden and Finland had requested to affix NATO after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, and the overwhelming majority of the alliance’s members quickly agreed. Turkey accredited Finland’s bid however, together with Hungary, has withheld approval for Sweden.
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken met with Mr. Erdogan in Istanbul this month and pushed him to have Turkey approve Sweden’s accession. Mr. Blinken tried to guarantee him that the F-16 sale would occur, U.S. officers mentioned.
The State Division gave the 2 congressional committees casual notification of the sale multiple yr in the past, beginning the assessment course of by lawmakers. Nevertheless, congressional officers have gone again to the division repeatedly with questions on how Turkey may use the jets, in addition to a few of Turkey’s overseas coverage strikes that appear to run counter to U.S. pursuits.
One situation is the truth that the Turkish navy has carried out a rising variety of airstrikes on Kurdish militias in northeast Syria who’ve labored with the U.S. navy to struggle the Islamic State. Turkish leaders contemplate the Kurdish fighters to be members of a terrorist group. Members of Congress and aides stay involved about Turkey’s aggression, one official mentioned.
The congressional officers additionally wish to see assurances by Turkey of when the formal ratification of Sweden’s accession will transfer onward from Mr. Erdogan’s workplace. And they’re asking the State Division to offer them with a doc that Turkey has supposedly despatched the division saying that the Turkish navy intends to de-escalate any tensions with the Greek navy within the Aegean Sea, the official mentioned.
All meaning Mr. Biden won’t get approval from all 4 lawmakers as rapidly as he would love, regardless of the letter he despatched on Wednesday, which was reported earlier by Reuters.
Congressional officers count on that after these lawmakers give their consent, the State Division will transfer rapidly to formally notify Congress of the sale, which suggests the arms switch would undergo.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary promised on Wednesday to get his Legislature to approve Sweden’s accession, however gave no timeline for when a vote may occur.
Katie Rogers and Catie Edmondson contributed reporting.