Time to lift ‘unjust’ sanctions on Turkey’s defence industry, Erdogan tells Biden

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan advised U.S. President Joe Biden in a cellphone name on Thursday that it was previous time to elevate all “unjust” sanctions on Turkey’s defence trade.

Based on a press release from Erdogan’s workplace, he additionally advised Biden that Turkey anticipated its request to buy 40 new F-16 fighter jets and modernise its current fleet to be finalised as quickly as doable.

Ankara had initially ordered greater than 100 F-35 jets, made by Lockheed Martin Corp, however the US eliminated Turkey from the programme in 2019 after it acquired Russian S-400 missile defence programs.

Turkey has referred to as the transfer unjust and demanded reimbursement for its $1.4 billion cost.

Reuters reported final 12 months that Ankara had made a request to Washington to purchase 40 Lockheed Martin-made F-16s and practically 80 modernization kits for its current warplanes.

Turkey’s buy of the S-400s has additionally triggered U.S. sanctions. In December 2020, Washington blacklisted Turkey’s Defence Trade Directorate, its chief, Ismail Demir, and three different workers.

A readout of Thursday’s name from the White Home didn’t point out a dialogue about sanctions or Turkey’s request relating to the F-16s.

But it surely mentioned Erdogan and Biden had talked about alternatives to strengthen ties, along with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The decades-old partnership between the NATO allies has gone by means of unprecedented tumult lately over disagreements on Syria coverage, Ankara’s nearer ties with Moscow, U.S. fees towards a state-owned Turkish financial institution and erosion of rights and freedoms in Turkey.

Washington has repeatedly warned Turkey towards shopping for additional Russian weaponry. Ankara has mentioned it intends to undergo with the acquisition of a second batch of S-400s from Russia, a transfer that might worsen the diplomatic rift with the US.

The request for the jets will possible have a troublesome time getting approval from the U.S. Congress, the place sentiment in direction of Turkey has soured deeply over latest years.

Democratic and Republican U.S. lawmakers urged the Biden administration in October to not promote F-16 fighter jets to Turkey and mentioned they had been assured Congress would block any such exports.

(Reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen; Modifying by David Gregorio and Alistair Bell)

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