Biden moves to strike US arms deal with Turkey, report says, as Erdogan uses Ukraine peacemaker role to restore reputation in DC

  • Biden asked Congress to approve an arms deal with Turkey last month, the WSJ reported.
  • Separately, Turkey asked the US to approve the sale of 40 US-made F-16 fighter jets to it.

President Joe Biden‘s administration asked congressional leaders last month to approve a new weapons deal with Turkey, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The deal would see the US provide Turkey with missiles, radar, and electronics for its existing fleet of F-16 fighter jets, The Journal said.

As well as the deal for missiles and parts, Turkey is separately hoping to sign a much larger deal with the US, worth roughly $6 billion, for 40 new F-16 jets.

Turkey made that request in October, but it is unclear whether Biden has asked Congress to approve that deal.

The Biden administration said recently that an F-16 deal with Turkey, which is a NATO member, serves the bloc’s interests. However, the proposed deals will likely face opposition from several US lawmakers who have objected to Turkey’s human-rights record.

Nonetheless, progress on the deals is significant given the US and Turkey fell out dramatically in 2017 after Turkey bought Russian-made S-400 surface-to-air missile systems. As a result, the US sanctioned Turkey and removed it from the Pentagon’s F-35 fighter jet program at great expense.

News of the F-16 parts deal reported by The Journal comes as Turkey hopes to restore its reputation in Washington, DC, by making the most of its self-declared role as peacemaker between Ukraine and Russia.

Top officials from Ukraine and Russia have met several times for peace talks in Turkey since Russia’s invasion began on February 24. However, Ukraine and Russia have not been able to agree on conditions for a cease-fire.

Russia said this week that talks were continuing, but were now being held remotely, Reuters reported.

In a sign that the US has warmed to Turkey’s efforts to support peace negotiations, Biden on a March 10 call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan “expressed appreciation” for Erdogan’s efforts to “support a diplomatic resolution to the conflict.”

In another move that will likely have pleased the US, Turkey supplied Ukraine with armed drones after Russia invaded, which have since been used on Russian troops.

As a result of the Ukraine crisis, the US and Turkey have resumed their dormant “strategic dialogue,” The Journal reported.

In October, the US warned Turkey against purchasing Russian weapons ever again after Erdogan met with President Vladimir Putin.

“We continue to make that clear to Turkey and what the consequences will be if they move in that direction,” deputy secretary of state Wendy Sherman told reporters at the time.

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