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US senator introduces resolution to block F-16 sale to Turkey

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Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky introduced a joint resolution in the United States Senate on Tuesday aiming to halt the proposed sale of F-16 fighter jets and other defense articles to Turkey.

The resolution seeks congressional disapproval of the foreign military sale, which includes a substantial package of 32 F-16 C Block 70 aircraft, eight F-16 D Block 70 aircraft and a wide range of associated equipment and munitions.

Senator Paul, a member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, has previously expressed opposition to the Biden administration’s defense dealings with foreign nations, including Egypt.

The proposed sale to Turkey, valued at approximately $23 billion, encompasses not only the fighter jets but also a variety of munitions and military equipment intended for Turkey’s modernization of its army.

The resolution was read twice upon introduction and has been referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations for further consideration. However, the approval of both the Senate and the House of Representatives is required for the resolution to take effect. Even if passed, President Joe Biden has the power to veto the resolution. The deadline for congressional objection to the sale is February 10.

The context of the proposed sale is noteworthy, coming after the Biden administration signaled approval following Turkey’s ratification of Sweden’s NATO membership. This gesture was part of a broader diplomatic engagement, which also included the United States notifying Congress of the sale of F-35 jets to Greece on January 27, along with the F-16 package for Turkey.

Turkey’s defense ministry, responding to the resolution, expressed confidence that the sale would not face significant obstacles, the Gazete Duvar news website reported.

Turkey in October 2021 sought to buy 40 Lockheed Martin Corp. F-16 fighter jets and 80 modernization kits for its existing warplanes.

Technical talks between the two sides were concluded long ago, but the sale was not approved by the State Department until recently due to objections from some US lawmakers who had concerns about issues including Turkey’s resistance to the ratification of Sweden’s NATO membership, human rights abuses and Turkish overflights of Greek airspace.

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