State Dept. Tells Congress It Has Approved Sale of F-16 Jets to Turkey

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The State Department notified Congress on Friday that it had approved a $23 billion sale of F-16 fighter jets and related equipment to Turkey after the country’s leader signed documents allowing Sweden’s long-delayed entry into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, department officials and the Pentagon said.

Although Congress could move to formally block the sale, four senior lawmakers told the State Department on Friday evening that they would not object, after their aides reviewed the documents signed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, U.S. officials said.

Congressional officials had demanded to see the documents before signaling their approval of the sale, so the State Department asked Turkey to fly the documents to New York on Friday. The department had someone pick up the documents in New York and bring them to Washington by Friday evening to show the lawmakers.

The department’s subsequent formal notification to Congress means the sale will almost certainly occur, satisfying Mr. Erdogan’s main condition for supporting Sweden’s accession to NATO and potentially helping bring to a close an episode that has strained relations between the United States and Turkey.

Turkey was, along with Hungary, one of two NATO members withholding approval of Sweden’s entry into the alliance. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken had undertaken intense diplomacy since last year, including meeting with Mr. Erdogan in Istanbul this month, to try to change the Turkish leader’s mind.

Mr. Blinken discussed the issue with Mr. Erdogan in a visit to Turkey in February 2023, and said three times that Turkey would not get the F-16s if it refused to approve Sweden’s accession, a U.S. official said.

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State Dept. Tells Congress It Has Approved Sale of F-16 Jets to Turkey

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