Menendez: ‘I strongly oppose the sale of new F-16 aircraft to Turkey’

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“As I have repeatedly made clear, I strongly oppose the Biden administration’s proposed sale of new F-16 aircraft to Turkey,” Senator Bob Menendez, Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement on Saturday.

The State Department sent an informal document to Congress on Thursday notifying that it is preparing the potential $20 billion sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey.

The intention to proceed with the proposed deal sparked an immediate objection from the senior US lawmaker who has long opposed the deal.

The Biden administration has said it supports the sale and has been in touch for months with Congress on an informal basis to win its approval. However, it has failed so far to secure a green light.

While the sale is still in the informal review process, Congress is also unlikely to approve the sale as long as Turkey refuses to proceed with the ratification of Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership.

The notification, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, comes as Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu prepares to visit Washington on Wednesday for talks as the two NATO allies struggle with a host of disagreements including over Syria and weapons purchases.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan was disregarding human rights and democratic norms and engaging in “alarming and destabilizing behaviour in Turkey and against neighbouring NATO allies,” Menendez said in his statement.

“Until Erdogan ceases his threats … and begins to act like a trusted ally should, I will not approve this sale.”

Menendez also said he welcomed news of the sale of new F-35 fighter aircraft for Greece, referring to Athens as a “trusted NATO ally” and saying the sale “strengthens our two nation’s abilities to defend shared principles including our collective defence, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.”

A State Department spokesperson declined to comment, saying the department does not confirm or comment on proposed arms sales or transfers until the administration has formally requested approval from Congress.

Source: Ekathimerini

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