Republican and Democrat lawmakers alike are urging the Biden administration not to sell F-16 fighter jets to Turkey, Reuters reported in the last week of October, right before President Joe Biden met with Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, at the G-20 in Rome.
The United States and Turkey are NATO allies, but tensions have been increasing in recent years over military defense and Turkey’s human rights issues with respect to the Kurds. When asked if he would sell F-16s to Turkey, President Biden said there’s a "50-50 chance."
Behind closed doors, the two leaders met for an hour. After their face to face, Erdogan emerged and told reporters Biden "reacted positively" to Turkey's request to buy American made F-16 warplanes.
Turkey made a $1.4 billion down payment before it was expelled from the F-35 program. Erdogan previously said the U.S. proposed selling F-16 fighter jets instead.
Ties between Turkey and the U.S. have been strained over multiple issues in recent years, especially Turkey’s purchase of a multibillion dollar S-400 Russian missile defense system, a move that drew heavy sanctions from the Trump Administration. The S-400 is believed to be capable of engaging long-range targets. Turkey denies that the Russian missile system poses a security threat.
The United States and Turkey also strongly differ over the role of Syrian Kurdish fighters named YPG. Washington, D.C., considers them an ally in the fight against the Islamic state, while Turkey accuses YPG of being affiliated with outlawed Kurdish militants who have attacked turkey and demanded that Washington stop supporting the group.
Biden’s appearance at the G-20 comes amid tanking approval ratings personally, Democrat party infighting, and widely unpopular policy proposals. Mr. Biden didn’t specifically mention his meeting with Erdogan when he addressed reporters Sunday. But he did criticize China and Russia for not "showing up" at the G-20 to address climate change.
Erdogan was supposed to fly to Glasgow to attend the COP26 climate summit but decided to go back to Turkey instead. Biden is attending the climate summit.
Daniel Cohen is Newsmax's Jerusalem correspondent at the Middle East Bureau.
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