Head of a Turkish delegation, currently visiting Washington said on Friday that the US is "very positive" about the F-16 deal.
"We shared with them how strengthening Turkiye's defense industry would also support NATO, how quickly it could support regional and global peace, and we always saw a positive attitude from them," Justice and Development (AK) Party Deputy Chairman and Foreign Affairs Head Efkan Ala said in a news conference while evaluating their contacts in the US Congress.
During the talks with US counterparts, Ala said that the atmosphere regarding Turkish-American relations was very positive, especially after Turkiye’s constructive role in the Russia-Ukraine war.
Ala said that they had extensive and productive meetings with 24 US Congress members, some of whom were senators, noting that they had a very productive exchange of ideas on many topics that would benefit both countries.
He emphasized that Ankara's position on the Straits was also appreciated by the members of Congress.
Ala stressed that the political, economic, and defense issues between the two countries were handled in a positive atmosphere, adding that the delegation noticed a constructive atmosphere for solving the problems in bilateral relations.
"At a time when the external negative effect that emerged in the Ukraine-Russia war, that is, in regional conflicts, covers the whole Europe, the vital importance of Turkiye's ability to take initiative has emerged," he said.
The delegation head also underlined that he believes that possible problems that may be encountered in this process can be overcome through the use of the political and diplomatic capacities of the two countries.
An approximately $6-billion deal would include the sale of 40 newly built F-16V fighter jets and modernization kits for 80 F-16 C/D models that the Turkish Air Forces has in its inventory.
The Turkish government requested the F-16s and modernization kits in October 2021, and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on April 8 that the talks were “progressing positively.”
Naz Durakoglu, the State Department's top official for legislative affairs, acknowledged last month in a letter to Congressman Frank Pallone the ongoing tensions over additional arms sales to Turkiye but maintained that the sanctions and Turkiye’s removal from the F-35 fighter jet program represent "a significant price paid" for its acquisition of Russia’s S-400 missile defense system.
In early May, reports appeared on some US news outlets claiming that several lawmakers favor the deal.
Turkiye paid $1.4 billion for the fighter jets, but Washington took Ankara out of the program in 2019 because Turkiye purchased the Russian S-400 defense system after its efforts to acquire US Patriot missiles were rebuffed.
The US claimed the Russian system was a security risk, but Turkiye maintained that the S-400 would pose no threat to NATO or its armaments because it would not be integrated into the alliance's systems.
Ankara also repeatedly proposed setting up a commission to resolve the matter./aa