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US envoy says F-16 deal with Turkey is not linked to NATO’s North Atlantic bid

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Echoing similar comments by Turkey’s foreign minister, US Ambassador to Ankara Jeff Flake told reporters Thursday that the US decision on the possible sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey and bids for Sweden and Finland to join NATO are “unrelated”.

Speaking to a group of correspondents, Ambassador Flick said that his country “always seeks to obtain as many high-level engagements as possible between our two countries.”

On the meeting of the Turkish-American strategic mechanism that was held in Washington yesterday between Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, Flick said that the two sides “addressed many important issues.”

“Secretary Blinken obviously thanked Foreign Minister Cavusoglu for Turkey’s work with the (Ukraine) Grain Initiative, with its strong and continuing support for Ukrainian sovereignty, and for the support it has been providing to NATO — (for) 70 years (Turkey has been a),” Flick said.

On the potential sale of F-16 fighter jets and F-16 upgrade kits, the US diplomat reiterated that the process is “now under graduated review before Congress.” Flick said there was “no connection” between the F-16 sale and NATO membership bids from Sweden and Finland, which are awaiting approval from Turkey. “The US Congress has invested a lot in this war to help Ukraine financially counter Russian aggression and lead this coalition,” Flick said. They see this as very important, but there is no correlation.”

“The desire for Sweden and Finland to join NATO is universal in Congress,” he said.

Flake went on to say that “there is a certain number of days technically I think the (Congressional) committee is given to review that in the graduated review process…but these are not firm dates.”

In October, Ankara placed an order with Washington for 40 F-16s and an upgrade kit, while last week the State Department informally notified Congress of the potential sale.

On Turkey’s talks with the Assad regime, Flick said, “The United States still opposes entering into and normalizing relations with the Assad regime, given what it has done to its people over the years. And we still oppose that.”

On security issues related to northern Syria, where Turkish officials have warned of the formation of a “terrorist corridor” along its borders if no action is taken, Flake said that talks and dialogue between Turkey and the United States are continuing. Turkey has long expressed its opposition to US cooperation with the YPG/PKK terrorist group, one of the terrorist groups that has made the border a source of violence, and they have also warned that a Turkish ground offensive across the border might be necessary to eliminate the YPG-PKK terrorist threat. Kurdistan workers.

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