USA confirm Turkey’s need for military modernization: Pentagon

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A senior Defense Department official reiterated Turkey’s “military modernization needs in support of NATO,” the Pentagon said on Wednesday.

Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, Laura Cooper, “also highlighted Black Sea cooperation during a dialogue session of the US-Turkey High-Level Defense Group at the Pentagon,” Lt. Col. Anton Semelroth’s spokesman said in a statement. Cooper acts as the head of the Pentagon for the discussions.

The meeting between US and Turkish delegations on Tuesday discussed “a wide range of functional and regional issues, including transnational priorities such as the fight against terrorism and regional security in Afghanistan, Africa, the South Caucasus, the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East “said Semelroth.

A follow-up meeting in Ankara was agreed by both sides, according to the Pentagon. No date was given.

The high-level meeting between military delegations in the USA took place in a positive and constructive atmosphere, the Turkish Defense Ministry announced on Wednesday that the next meeting would take place in Turkey.

The ministry announced in a written statement that the delegations discussed bilateral and regional security issues as well as the F-16 issue.

One of the top agendas in the two countries recently has been the S-400 crisis.

Turkey must consider alternatives to ensure its safety if the United States rejects a deal on F-16 fighter jets, Defense Secretary Hulusi Akar said Tuesday.

Turkey demanded the purchase of 40 F-16s and nearly 80 modernization kits in exchange for the payment Ankara had allocated for the F-35 fighter program.

“If the US stance is negative, Turkey must inevitably and naturally have to look at other alternatives to ensure its safety in the threatened environment in which it finds itself,” said the minister.

Turkey had paid $ 1.4 billion (TL 14.34 billion) for the F-35 before Washington banned it from the program in 2019 for purchasing a Russia-made S-400 air defense system after its efforts in The purchase of US-made Patriot missiles that failed were rejected.

Ankara requested a refund of his payment, saying it should be used to fund some of its inquiries to purchase F-16s and upgrade kits.

Still, all military sales would have to be approved by the US Congress, known for its anti-Turkey stance, which has repeatedly damaged bilateral relations.

During their meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Rome earlier this month, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said he had asked his US counterpart Joe Biden for assistance in getting US lawmakers to endorse the sale.

Erdoğan said he saw Biden “take a positive approach” when asked by Turkey. “While I have seen Mr. Biden’s positive approach on the matter, another aspect of the issue is the House of Representatives and the Senate,” he added.

Washington could approach the issue positively, Akar said, adding, “We are however closely following developments (on this issue) as the process is subject to the approval of Congress.”

In the event the F-16 deal fails, Ankara is still ready to consider buying Russia-made Su-35 and Su-57 fighter jets, officials said.

Ankara had ordered more than 100 F-35s from Lockheed Martin, while the defense industry was a major player in the design and manufacture of fighter jets.

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