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Turkey’s Erdoğan Ties Approval of US F-16s to Sweden’s NATO Accession

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan says his country’s endorsement for Sweden’s NATO membership depends on U.S. congressional approval to sell F-16 fighter jets to Turkey.

“Positive developments from the United States regarding the F-16 issue and Canada keeping its promises will accelerate our parliament’s positive view on [Sweden’s membership],” Erdoğan said in comments reported by the state-run Anadolu Agency on Monday, according to The Associated Press. “All of these are linked.”

The Turkish president also said Canada, and other NATO allies, must lift their arms embargoes against Turkey. 

Turkey is one of two NATO members, including Hungary, that have not approved Sweden’s bid to join the military alliance, delaying the ratification of its membership for more than a year. The Nordic nation and neighboring Finland have been building closer relationships with Western allies after they abandoned long-standing military neutrality strategies in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The U.S. signed a defense deal with Sweden earlier this month. The deal allows American troops to have access to bases on Swedish territory. 

“The Defense cooperation agreement will be a cornerstone also in our bilateral defense cooperation and a sign of our mutual will to further develop this endeavor,” Swedish Defense Minister Pål Jonson said in remarks at the signing.

The Swedish government has said the aforementioned deal came in response to Russia’s invasion, and a security environment that has “fundamentally changed.”

“The deteriorating situation means that Sweden must be able to respond quickly to complex security developments,” Sweden’s government said of the deal.

Source : The Hill