Blinken: Sale of F-16s to Turkey and Sweden's NATO bid are separate matters
The sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey and Sweden's bid for NATO membership are two separate matters and the US administration, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a recent interview with Euronews.
Responding to a question about whether Turkey's potential purchase of F-16s was linked to Sweden's NATO membership, Blinken said, ""For us, that's a totally separate question. We support Turkey getting an upgraded F-16 program to include new F-16s, to include modernizing existing F-16s. That is for us, for the Biden administration, independent of the accession process to NATO or for that matter, any other question."
"Turkey has legitimate interests, and it's worked directly and well with both Finland and Sweden to try to address some of those interests and concerns. I think you've seen the success of that process manifest itself with Finland's accession to NATO. And again, I fully anticipate it'll be the same thing for Sweden in the weeks and months ahead. And in any event, I would anticipate by the Vilnius summit.”
The sale of F-16s to Turkey has been a contentious issue in recent years, with the US Congress placing a hold on the transfer of the aircraft due to concerns about Turkey's human rights record and its flights over the Greek islands in the Aegean Sea.