Turkish and American Defense Ministers Meet to Discuss NATO Expansion

Defense Minister Hulusi Akar has had a phone conversation with United States Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to discuss NATO expansion with Finland and Türkiye’s demand of supplying 40 new F-16s from the U.S., the Turkish ministry said in a statement.

According to the statement, the two ministers exchanged views on bilateral and regional defense and security matters, including the continued grain initiative for the export of Ukraine’s grain and other food products. They also discussed the importance of swift accomplishment of the sale of 40 new F-16 warfighters and 79 modernization kits to Türkiye.

The Biden administration supports the sale but there is a bi-partisan majority at the U.S. Congress that is against the transaction.

According to the statement, Akar thanked the U.S. for its support and solidarity in the aftermath of devastating earthquakes that killed more than 50,000 people in 11 provinces in southern Türkiye.

“[Akar] also expressed that we always support NATO’s open-door policy and Finland’s accession has proven it once again with hopes that Sweden will also fulfill the required criteria as soon as possible,” read the statement.

The Turkish Parliament ratified Finland’s entry to NATO that made the Nordic state 31st ally. NATO-aspirant Sweden hopes to join the alliance before the mid-July summit of the alliance in Vilnius.