In light of changing conditions, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has stated that the Turkish foreign minister will closely monitor Ankara’s pursuit of F-16 fighter jets and upgrade kits from the US.
“Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan will now follow this process closely. In fact, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Hakan Fidan met in the US three or four days ago. These talks are still ongoing. But now, it would be beneficial to turn this situation into an opportunity and meet with him again,” Erdoğan said on the presidential plane returning from a visit to Azerbaijan.
“One of our chief hurdles on the F-16 issue were the activities of US Senator Bob Menendez against our country,” he said, referring to Menendez’s indictment last week on corruption charges, sidelining him from some of his Senate duties, which Erdoğan suggested may give new impetus to the sales: “We may have the opportunity to accelerate the process regarding the F-16s.”
Erdoğan said Menendez “being out of the picture” gives Türkiye an advantage, but added the F-16 is not just an issue related to Menendez.
“We now expect a clear answer from the US on this issue. We hope that we will get the positive result we expect without too much delay,” he added.
Last week Menendez resigned from his position chairing the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, but he has resisted calls for him to leave his Senate seat entirely.