The US president says he expects more discussions next week after a call to his Turkish counterpart, congratulating him on his re-election.
US President Joe Biden has congratulated his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on his re-election as the two leaders also discussed issues such as Turkey’s purchase of F-16 fighter jets and Sweden joins NATO.
In the phone conversation on Monday, Erdogan repeated Ankara’s desire to buy the US-made plane, while Biden told him that Washington wanted Ankara to drop its objection to Sweden becoming a member of the transatlantic military alliance, according to the president of the United States.
“I spoke with Erdogan. I congratulated Erdogan. He still wants to work on something about the F-16s. I told him we want a deal with Sweden, so let’s do it. And so we’ll be in touch again,” Biden told reporters at the White House.
Asked if he expected any move from Erdogan on Sweden’s NATO membership, Biden said: “I raised that issue with him. We’re going to talk more about that next week.”
Sweden and Finland applied for NATO membership last year, abandoning longstanding policies of military non-alignment after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Membership offers must be approved by all NATO members. Finland joined the US-led alliance last month, but Sweden’s membership has been stymied by objections from Turkey and Hungary. Turkey says Stockholm hosts members of armed groups it considers “terrorists”.
Meanwhile, Turkey has tried to buy $20 billion worth of F-16s and nearly 80 retrofit kits from the US.
But the sale has stalled due to objections from the US Congress over Ankara’s refusal to greenlight NATO expansion, its human rights record and Syria policy, despite the administration’s Biden has repeatedly said that he supports the sale.
A much smaller $259 million package that includes avionics software upgrades for Turkey’s current fleet of F-16 fighter jets was approved by the US Congress earlier this year, days after Turkey ratified Finland’s accession to NATO.
The Biden administration has repeatedly rejected any claim of any “quid pro quo” between the sale and NATO expansion, though Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in January that the US side made it clear that Congress would look positively on approval of NATO’s offers.
Seeing Sweden join NATO in mid-July, when the alliance is due to hold a leaders’ summit in Lithuania, is believed to be one of Washington’s top priorities.
Erdoğan on Sunday won a runoff against the main opposition candidate, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, extending his 20-year rule to a third presidential term.