Sweden: NATO associate requests F-16s to support new enlargement


(MENAFN) In a diplomatic twist, the approval of Sweden's NATO accession is reportedly contingent on the United States' willingness to supply fighter jets to the nation, according to Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom. Speaking at NATO headquarters in Brussels ahead of a meeting with Turkish counterpart Hakan Fidan, Billstrom revealed that Turkey's ratification of Sweden's NATO membership is tied to the acquisition of F-16 fighter jets.

Recent reports suggested that Ankara had informed NATO members that Sweden's accession would not be approved at the bloc's foreign ministers meeting this week unless certain conditions were met. Turkey, seeking to strengthen its fleet of F-16 jets with both new aircraft and upgrade kits for existing planes, has set its sights on a deal with the United States. This,
however, comes with the condition of linking the agreement to deliveries of F-35s to Greece.

The intricate diplomatic maneuvering underscores the complexity of Sweden's NATO membership, described by Billstrom as being "hostage" to Washington's policies and negotiations between the two rival members of the alliance. The foreign minister emphasized that Sweden has fulfilled its commitments, referencing the agreement reached during the NATO summit in Vilnius hosted by Lithuania in July. During this summit, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed support for Sweden's NATO candidacy.

The reported agreement between the United States and Sweden is said to be facilitated by President Joe Biden's commitment to overcoming resistance to F-16 sales in Congress. Biden aims to achieve this by bundling F-35 deliveries to Greece with the deal. The unfolding situation not only sheds light on the intricate geopolitics within NATO but also raises questions about the role of arms deals in shaping diplomatic relations and alliance dynamics within the international community.

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