Erdoğan thanks Biden for supporting Ankara’s request to buy F16 fighter jets without linking to the subject of Sweden’s NATO membership

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Two days before the start of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan thanked US President Joe Biden for his support for Türkiye’s request to purchase US combat aircraft.

The Turkish presidential office announced, in a statement, Sunday, that Erdoğan made it clear at the same time that he didn’t consider it right to link the F16s with Türkiye’s support for Sweden’s accession to NATO.

The Turkish presidential office said that Erdoğan and Biden spoke by phone.

It’s already scheduled to hold a bilateral meeting between the two presidents on the sidelines of the summit, which will start next Tuesday in the Lithuanian capital.

Türkiye currently opposes Sweden’s accession to the defense alliance.

Erdoğan told Biden that Sweden had already taken steps in the right direction by amending its terrorism legislation.

However, he accused the Scandinavian country of allowing demonstrations that glorify “terrorism” and thus undermined the progress that had been made, according to the statement.

Ankara believes Sweden isn’t cracking down hard enough against the country’s hardline Kurds, whom Erdoğan considers terrorists and a threat to Türkiye.

Recently, burning Qur’an incident during a demonstration in Sweden, sparking outrage in the Muslim world.

Biden said, in an interview with CNN, that burning copies of the Qur’an puts Erdogan in a difficult position at home.

“They’re working to prevent that,” Biden said, though he didn’t clarify whether he was referring to Sweden.

The White House said, in a statement, that the two presidents “expressed their joint commitment to continue supporting Ukraine … President Biden also expressed his desire to welcome Sweden to NATO as soon as possible”.

Biden made it clear to CNN that he views fighter jets as a way to break the deadlock.

Biden said that Türkiye is seeking to modernize its fleet of F16 fighter jets, adding that Greece is also seeking help in that regard.

The US administration has confirmed several times previously that it supports Türkiye’s plans to modernize its F16 fighter fleet.

NATO members must unanimously agree on new entrants to the alliance.

Formerly neutral Sweden wants to follow Finland’s lead by joining NATO in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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