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The Biden administration has authorized the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey, aligning with Turkey’s recent ratification of Sweden’s NATO membership. The State Department confirmed to Congress the approval of a $23 billion sale of F-16s to Turkey and an $8.6 billion sale of F-35 fighter jets to Greece.

The deal with Turkey includes 40 new F-16s and upgrades for 79 existing aircraft, while Greece will receive 40 F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters. Turkey’s ratification of Sweden’s NATO membership was pivotal in facilitating this sale. Despite initial objections by U.S. lawmakers over human rights issues, the Biden administration has advocated for the sale, citing strategic and alliance-strengthening reasons.

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Senator Ben Cardin and Senator Jim Risch, influential members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, initially opposed the sale due to concerns about Turkey’s human rights record. However, they have since agreed, with Senator Cardin noting commitments from Turkey to improve its human rights situation. “I look forward to beginning this new chapter in our relationship with Turkey, expanding the NATO alliance, and working with our global allies in standing up to ongoing Russian aggression against its peaceful neighbors,” Cardin stated.

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Turkey’s delay in ratifying Sweden’s NATO membership, extending over a year, stemmed from concerns about Sweden’s stance on Turkey’s national security issues, such as its opposition to Kurdish militants. This delay caused frustration among the U.S. and other NATO members, who had swiftly accepted Sweden and Finland into the alliance following Russia’s incursion into Ukraine.

The final step for Sweden’s NATO membership now rests with Hungary, the last NATO member yet to give its approval.


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