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Erdogan says Turkey will recoup money paid to U.S. for F-35 jets

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By Reuters
Erdogan says Turkey will recoup money paid to U.S. for F-35 jets
Erdogan says Turkey will recoup money paid to U.S. for F-35 jets   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2021   -  

<div> <p><span class="caps">ISTANBUL</span> -President Tayyip Erdogan said he believed Turkey and the United States will make progress in talks for the sale of F-16 fighter jets and that Ankara will recoup $1.4 billion it paid for F-35s it is blocked from buying, Anadolu agency reported on Thursday.</p> <p>Erdogan said at the weekend that the United States had offered to sell Turkey the F-16s in return for Ankara’s downpayment on the more advanced F-35s, which Washington blocked after Turkey bought Russian missile defences. </p> <p>Washington, which also imposed sanctions in December on Turkey’s defence industry, said it had made no financing offer to its <span class="caps">NATO</span> ally.</p> <p>“We will get this $1.4 billion of ours one way or another,” Anadolu agency quoted Erdogan as telling reporters on a return fight from Nigeria, adding the Turkish and U.S. defence ministers would discuss the issue.</p> <p>“I believe we will make progress. We will of course talk about this with (U.S. President) Biden at the G20 meeting in Rome.”</p> <p>Reuters reported earlier this month that Turkey asked to buy 40 Lockheed Martin-made F-16 fighter jets and nearly 80 modernization kits for its existing warplanes. </p> <p>Asked about the talks on the issue, Turkish Foreign Ministry Spokesman Tanju Bilgic said that Turkey and the United States were discussing possibly using the payment for the F-35s to finance Ankara’s F-16 purchase.</p> <p>“The options for us are simple: we will either return to the (F-35) programme, get the planes, or they will refund our money. In this framework, using the money we paid for the F-35s for the modernisation of the F-16s is on the agenda,” Bilgic said.</p> <p>The decades-old alliance between Ankara and Washington has been seriously strained in the past five years over policy differences on Syria, Turkey’s Russian S-400 missile defence purchase, tensions in the east Mediterranean and human rights. </p> <p>Ankara has said it hopes for better ties under the new U.S. administration, but talks between Erdogan and Biden have so far yielded little progress.</p> </div>