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US to advance Turkey's F-16 sales as Sweden's NATO bid moves forward

US Senator Bob Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, says he is in talks with the administration on F-16 sales as the Turkish and US presidents met today.
JOHN THYS/AFP via Getty Images

The presidents of Turkey and the United States came together Tuesday for a rare face-to-face meeting on the fringes of NATO’s Vilnius summit after Turkey greenlighted Sweden’s membership to the alliance and Washington signaled it would move forward with the sale of the F-16 fighter jets to Turkey in consultation with Congress.

US President Joe Biden and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan came together for a bilateral talk, which lasted more than an hour, at the end of the summit’s first day, following an announcement by the military alliance’s secretary general that NATO had agreed to “extend an invitation” to Ukraine to join the alliance when “allies agree and conditions are met.”

Biden called the NATO summit “a historical moment,” thanking  Erdogan for his leadership, presumably for his support to Ukraine’s NATO candidacy as well as his agreement for greenlighting Sweden’s bid.

Erdogan, for his part, jokingly classified their previous meetings as “warming up sessions” and the present one as the “first presidential-level meeting” of the newish Turkish-American Strategic Mechanism, a consultation platform between the two allies. “Now we are starting a new process,” Erdogan said, adding that he had “a period of five years” — an allusion to his electoral victory last May which gives him another term at the head of Turkey. A cryptic official statement from Turkey's Information Directorate said that the two leaders discussed political, economic and commercial ties, security cooperation and regional issues.

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