US Sen. Menendez says he is talking with Biden administration on F-16 sales to Turkey


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez on Monday said there was a temporary “lull” in Turkey’s “aggression against its neighbors” and said he is in talks with the Biden administration about the hold he has on future U.S. sales of F-16 fighter jets to Ankara.

Menendez, a Democrat, said in a brief hallway interview that while he still has concerns about Turkey, he could make a decision within the next week about the status of that hold.

His remarks came the day Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan agreed to forward to parliament Sweden’s bid to become a member of the NATO military alliance.

Asked whether that progress might prompt him to reconsider his long-running hold on the fighter jets, Menendez said: “We’re having conversations with the administration.” He added, “If they (Biden administration) can find a way to ensure that Turkey’s aggression against its neighbors ceases, which there has been a lull the last several months, that’s great but there has to be a permanent reality.”

Menendez also said that there needed to be a way to “beef up Greece’s security” and obtain “assurances about future actions.”

Asked how long it might take for him to make a decision on maintaining the hold on F-16 sales to Turkey, Menendez responded, “Probably, if there can be one, in the next week.”

(Reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Leslie Adler and David Gregorio)

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