Turkish, US defense chiefs discuss F-16 issue, Ukraine grain export deal
In a Monday phone call, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin discussed last week’s deal to reopen Ukrainian ports for grain exports.
The call came after Turkey, the UN, Russia, and Ukraine signed a deal on Friday to reopen three Ukrainian ports – Odesa, Chernomorsk, and Yuzhny – for grain exports stuck for months due to the Russia-Ukraine war, now in its sixth month.
Akar and Austin also exchanged views on Turkish-Greek relations, proposed US F-16 sales to Turkey, the fight against terrorism, and other regional defense and security issues, the Turkish National Defense Ministry said in a statement.
The US House of Representatives approved on Thursday an amendment to the annual defense spending bill that restricts the sale of F-16 fighter jets and modernization kits to Türkiye.
It prohibits the sale or transfer of F-16s and modernization kits to Ankara unless the president certifies the transfer is in the US's national interests, and guarantees to Congress that in the 120 days prior to the transfer the Turkish government has not "violated the sovereignty of Greece, including through territorial overflights."
'We should sell the F-16 to Turkey'
The State Department has notified Congress that it supports the sale, and Biden last month threw his weight behind it, saying he was confident the needed congressional approval would be obtained.
"We should sell the F-16 to Turkey. I said that in December, and my position hasn’t changed since then. It’s not in our interests not to sell them. We need congressional approval to get there, and I think we’ll get there," he said.