Ankara (Times Of Ocean)- US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Thursday that foreign military sales to key US partners like Turkey and India should be expedited and bureaucratic hurdles removed.
When asked during congressional testimony what the Biden administration can do “to cut through the red tape to help our work with our allies such as Turkey and India,” Blinken acknowledged that both the executive and Congressional branches must sped up the process.
“I think that we can and should do better in sales, particularly in the rapidity with which we’re able to do things, review things. I think that’s on us in the executive branch. It’s also on Congress,” he told the House Appropriations Committee.
“A number of countries, as I said earlier, are rethinking their relationships, including with Russia, including countries that have had long-standing defense relationships with Russia. If we’re in a position to be a partner to them in ways that maybe we couldn’t be some decades ago, I think that’s something we need to be able to act on,” he said.
“Of course, if we don’t, we know who’s likely to do it in our place.”
Washington and Ankara are currently in bilateral talks over the sale of 40 F-16 fighter jets and 80 modernization kits for the existing fleet. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on April 8 that the talks were “progressing positively.” The Turkish government made the request in October.
An official of the State Department told Congress in congressional correspondence that selling F-16s to Turkey would support US interests and bolster NATO unity.
In a letter to congressman Frank Pallone, State Department official Naz Durakoglu acknowledged the ongoing tensions over additional arms sales to Turkey, but maintained that the sanctions and Turkey’s removal from the F-35 fighter jet program represent “a significant price paid” for Turkey’s acquisition of Russia’s S-400 missile defense system.
“The Administration believes that there are nonetheless compelling long-term NATO alliance unity and capability interests, as well as U.S. national security, economic and commercial interests that are supported by appropriate U.S. defense trade ties with Turkey,” Durakoglu wrote to Pallone, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
“The proposed sale will require a Congressional notification if the Department of State were to approve it. We affirm our commitment to established defense trade authorization procedures, including Congressional oversight,” she added, according to a copy of the letter circulated on social media.
Moreover, Durakoglu cited Turkey’s active contributions to NATO as well as its support for “Ukraine’s territorial integrity and cooperative defense relations,” calling those measures “a significant deterrent to malign influence in the region.”