Turkish FM urges US to finalise F-16 sale ‘as soon as possible’

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that the sale of US F-16 fighter jets to Ankara “needs to be finalised as soon as possible”.

Cavusoglu made the remarks at a joint press conference in Istanbul with visiting Moldovian Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration Nicu Popescu, in response to the latest US Congressional agreement to remove restrictive conditions in the final text of the defence budget on the sale of F-16s to Turkey, reports Xinhua news agency.

Turkey, aiming to bolster its airforce with 40 F-16 jets, has been adamant in its opposition to any conditions which included a ban on using the jets for “unauthorized overflights”.

Cavusoglu noted that the presence of any condition nullifies the benefits of acquiring the jets.

“The absence of a negative element (in the final text) is a positive development … That is in everyone’s interest,” said the Turkish foreign minister.

Ankara said earlier that it would consider alternatives including Russia if the F-16 purchase deal fails to follow through.

The US weapons sales to Turkey have stalled since the latter acquired Russian S-400 defence missile systems which prompted Washington to remove Ankara from the F-35 fighter jet program.

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