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Turkiye expects US sale of F-16 jets to be concluded: Fidan tells Blinken

January 7, 2024 at 10:46 am

United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L) and Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan (R) hold a meeting at Vahdettin Pavilion in Istanbul, Turkiye on January 06, 2024. [Murat Gök – Anadolu Agency]

Ankara expects Washington to conclude the process for the sale of F-16 fighter jets, the Turkish foreign minister told his US counterpart in an Istanbul meeting on Saturday, Anadolu reports.

According to diplomatic sources, Hakan Fidan and Antony Blinken discussed the relations between the two countries comprehensively during the meeting.

On the Sweden’s NATO bid, Fidan told Blinken that the Turkish parliament will give the final decision on the Nordic country’s accession to the military alliance.

The two ministers also discussed the ongoing humanitarian tragedy in Gaza, with Fidan drawing attention to the increasing aggression of Israel as a threat to the entire region.

Gaza war

During their talks, the Turkish foreign minister stressed the need for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza and continued delivery of humanitarian aid to the besieged region.

He also called for the start of negotiations for a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict as soon as possible.

Since Hamas’ cross-border attack on Oct. 7, Israel has continued relentless attacks on the Gaza Strip, killing more than 22,700 Palestinians and injuring over 58,100, according to local health authorities.

Israeli authorities claimed that the Hamas attack have killed around 1,200 Israelis.

The Israeli onslaught has left Gaza in ruins, with 60% of the enclave’s infrastructure damaged or destroyed and nearly 2 million residents displaced amid acute shortages of food, clean water, and medicines.

READ: Over 10 children a day lose a limb in Gaza

Russia-Ukraine war

Fidan also underlined Turkiye’s desire to avoid tensions in the Black Sea.

He addressed Turkiye’s efforts to ensure the safe delivery of food products produced in Russia and Ukraine to world markets.

Last July, Russia withdrew from the Black Sea deal, saying that the Russian part of the agreement had not been implemented. It sought the loosening of banking restrictions and the ability to ship its own fertilizer before returning to the deal.

The agreement, initially signed in July in 2022 in Istanbul by Turkiye, the UN, Russia, and Ukraine, was aimed at resuming grain exports from Ukrainian ports halted due to the war, which began in February 2022.

Turkiye, internationally praised for its unique mediator role between Ukraine and Russia, has time and again called on Kyiv and Moscow to end the fighting through negotiations.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly stressed his wish to bring Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelenskyy together in Turkiye for formal discussions to end the conflict.

Also, Fidan and Blinken discussed negotiations between Azerbaijan and Armenia as well as regional issues such as Syria and Iraq.

Relations between the two former Soviet republics have been tense since 1991 when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, a territory internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions.

Most of the territory was liberated by Azerbaijan during a war in the fall of 2020, which ended after a Russian-brokered peace agreement and also opened the door to normalization.

In September, the Azerbaijani army initiated an anti-terrorism operation in Karabakh to establish constitutional order in the region, after which illegal separatist forces surrendered. It put an end to more than 30 years of Armenian occupation of the region.

In December, the two countries traded prisoners of war at their border following a landmark joint statement.

READ: Turkiye denies increasing exports to Israel