Shortly before the NATO summit in Lithuania, US President Joe Biden and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke on the phone. On Sunday, the Turkish Presidential Office announced that they had agreed to hold a bilateral meeting in Vilnius. Erdogan thanked Biden for supporting the US call for F-16 fighter jets.
At the same time, he made it clear that he did not think it was right to link the F-16 issue with Sweden’s accession to NATO.
Türkiye is currently preventing the Scandinavian country from joining the military alliance. Erdogan Biden said that Sweden has taken steps in the right direction by changing the terrorism law. But at the same time, he accused Sweden of allowing “terrorism” to glorify the demonstrations and thus nullify the progress made, as revealed in the statement. A Quran was recently burned during a demonstration in Sweden, causing outrage in the Muslim world.
The White House did not initially provide any information about the call. Biden previously spoke in an interview with CNN about Sweden’s struggle to join NATO. He made it clear that he considered combat aircraft as a way to solve the blockade, and said that Turkey aims to modernize its F-16 fleet and Greece is also asking for help. “So, frankly, I’m trying to put together something like a consortium that we can use to strengthen NATO in terms of the military capability of both Greece and Turkey and let Sweden in.” It’s not over yet, Biden added, but he’s optimistic.
The US government has repeatedly stressed in the past that it supports Turkey’s efforts to modernize its F-16 fleet, but this is not a consideration of the country’s agreement to NATO’s northern expansion.
Biden also talked about burning the Koran in Sweden. Türkiye criticizes that the Swedish security service does not prevent such incidents. Biden said that the burning of the Qur’an put Erdogan “in a difficult position at home.” “They are working to prevent that,” he added, without clarifying whether he meant Sweden.
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