© Reuters. An F-16 combat jet of the US Airforce is prepared for practice flights ahead of the Air Defender Exercise 2023 at the military airport of Jagel, northern Germany, on June 9, 2023. AXEL HEIMKEN/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo
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.”