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Erdogan sees advantage in US Senator Menendez troubles

September 26, 2023 at 3:08 pm

US Senator Bob Menendez holds a press conference as he rejects accusations of corruption on September 25, 2023 [Fatih Aktaş/Anadolu Agency]

President Tayyip Erdogan said Turkiye needs to turn the legal troubles of US Senator Bob Menendez, a long-time critic of his government, into an opportunity for its requested purchase of F-16 US fighter jets, Turkish media said on Tuesday.

“Menendez being out of the picture is an advantage,” Erdogan was quoted as telling reporters aboard a flight, after the powerful US Senator was charged with taking bribes from three New Jersey businessmen,  Reuters reports.

Menendez, a Democrat who stepped down temporarily as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has long opposed the potential sale of F-16s to Turkiye and criticised Erdogan’s record on human rights.

READ: US Senator Menendez hit with bribery charges over Egypt ties

He has vowed to stay in Congress, denying wrongdoing.

There is benefit in turning this situation into an opportunity

Erdogan said.

Not just on the F-16s, but on all other issues Menendez, and those with similar mindsets, are carrying out obstructive actions against us.

Erdogan raised Turkiye’s pending ratification of Sweden’s NATO membership bid and said the White House must also fulfil its promise on the F-16s.

“We expect a clear response from the US on that matter now. We hope to get the positive result without more delay,” he said.

NATO member, Turkiye, requested in October 2021 to buy 40 Lockheed Martin Corp  F-16 fighters and 79 modernisation kits for its existing warplanes. President Joe Biden’s administration supports the $20-billion sale.

The Biden administration is linking F-16 fighter jet sales to Turkiye with Ankara’s ratification of Sweden’s NATO membership bid, Erdogan also said.

Turkiye will ratify Stockholm’s bid if the administration keeps its promise on the F-16 sale, he added.

READ: US Senator Menendez defiantly rejects calls to step down