Turkey criticizes US Senate bill to block sale of F35 fighter jets

Istanbu - Top officials from Turkey have criticized lawmakers in the US for voting to block the transfer of F35 fighter jets to Ankara as relations between the NATO allies worsen.

"You can't say, 'I cancelled it because I wanted to,' or 'I want to exclude Turkey.' The reasons are not acceptable," Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Tuesday, according to DHA news agency.
The Senate and the lower House of Representatives have both made their own amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act that target Turkey, a partner country on the F35 programme.
The Senate version of the authorization bill, which directs how federal funds should or should not be used, would prevent the jets transfer until the Pentagon devises a plan to remove Ankara from the programme.
Senators approved their version of the bill late Monday in a 85-10 vote with five abstentions. It must now pass a vote in the House of Representatives before it can be signed into law by the US president.
Turkey had wanted to buy about 100 F35s made by Lockheed Martin. Among the concerns cited by US lawmakers were Ankara's plans to acquire advanced Russian air defence systems, closer ties with Moscow and the arrests of US citizens and consulate staff.
"Now we are receiving letters from the Congress and there are some confusing attempts because of S400, but everyone has to fulfil their obligations," said Cavusoglu, referring to the advanced Russian surface-to-air missile system that Ankara has agreed to buy from Moscow.
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim described the Senate decision as "an unfortunate development," but said that "Turkey is not without alternatives."
"It is regrettable that the US Senate has made such a move, which is against the spirit of strategic partnership," Yildirim said, according to DHA.

Tuesday, June 19th 2018

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