ISTANBUL – Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Wednesday that the sale of U.S. F-16 fighter jets to Turkey “needs to be finalized 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 U.S. Congressional agreement to remove restrictive conditions in the final text of the defense budget on the sale of F-16s to Turkey.
Türkiye, 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,” according to the Turkish newspaper Daily Sabah.
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 U.S. weapons sales to Turkey have stalled since the latter acquired Russian S-400 defense missile systems which triggered the U.S. decision to remove Turkey from the F-35 fighter jet program. ■