Erdogan says Republican Senate control would help Turkey’s F-16 buy: Media

Turkey’s efforts to complete its purchase of F-16 jets would be “much easier” if Republicans end up controlling the US Senate, Turkish media quoted President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as saying on Saturday.

NATO member Turkey requested in October to buy 40 F-16 fighters from Lockheed Martin Corp and nearly 80 retrofit kits for its existing fighter jets, and technical discussions continue between the two sides.

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The US Congress would have to approve any final sale, which would be a hurdle for Ankara given the nations’ sometimes strained diplomatic relations and the skepticism of some US lawmakers.

“I hope next month will be full of good news and we will move in a very positive direction on the F-16 issue,” Erdogan told reporters on a flight from Uzbekistan.

“If the Republicans claim the few seats they need in the Senate, things will be much easier for us.”

Incumbent Democrat Mark Kelly’s victory in Arizona on Friday left Democrats one seat in the battle for control of the US Senate after Tuesday’s election, with two more races to be decided.

While the F-16 purchase has critics and supporters in both parties, Bob Menendez, Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, could stand in the way given his repeated criticisms of Turkey‘s record on human rights under Erdogan.

Erdogan said in September he had received “positive” feedback from two US senators he met in New York about their potential support for the sale of F-16s. Erdogan’s spokesman said recently that the purchase could be finalized early next year.

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