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Turkey election: Biden talks to Erdogan on F-16s and Sweden joining Nato

US president calls Turkish counterpart following re-election, with sides still apart on US fighter jet sales and Ankara's objections to Nato bid
US President Joe Biden speaks to members of the media on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington on 29 May 2023 (AFP)
US President Joe Biden speaks to members of the media on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington on 29 May 2023 (AFP)

US President Joe Biden said he had spoken with re-elected Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan about Ankara's desire to buy American F-16 fighter jets and its objection to Sweden joining Nato. 

The conversation took place after Biden called Erdogan to congratulate him for winning Turkey's presidential run-off on Sunday. 

Erdogan received 52 percent of votes to Kemal Kilicdaroglu's 48 percent, after the election went to a second round following the failure of either candidate to win a majority in the first round on 14 May. 

"I spoke to Erdogan. I congratulated Erdogan. He still wants to work on something on the F-16s. I told him we wanted a deal with Sweden, so let's get that done. And so we'll be back in touch with one another," Biden told reporters at the White House on Monday. 

Erdogan has expressed his reluctance to ratify Sweden's membership of Nato since it applied for membership last year, complaining that the Scandinavian country wasn't doing enough to combat terrorism, referencing its harbouring of wanted Kurdish figures.

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Bids to join the military alliance must be ratified by all its members. Turkey and Hungary are yet to approve Stockholm's application.

Asked whether he anticipated any movement from Erdogan on Sweden's bid, Biden said: "I raised that issue with him. We're going to talk more about it next week."

The US Congress has previously proposed Swedish membership as a condition for the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey.

It has objected to Ankara's attempts to buy $20bn worth of F-16s and modernisation kits, citing Turkey's refusal to approve Nato enlargement, its record on human rights and its policies regarding neighbouring Syria

Ankara ratified Nato membership for Finland in March. 

Finland and Sweden dropped decades of military non-alignment and applied to join the US-led defence alliance in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February last year.

Turkish officials have said they support Sweden's membership but would like to see Stockholm take measures against the presence of what they say are supporters of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), an armed group Turkey and the EU regard as a terrorist organisation.

Earlier on Monday, former US President Donald Trump offered enthusiastic congratulations to Erdogan for winning his re-election to a third term in office, calling the Turkish leader a friend.

"I know him well, he is a friend, and have learned first hand how much he loves his country and the great people of Turkey, which he has lifted to a new level of prominence and respect!" Trump said.

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