Biden, Erdoğan Talk F-16s, Human Rights, in Bid to Improve Ties
US President Joe Biden and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan met Sunday on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Rome and “had a very constructive conversation,” according to a senior US administration official. US-Turkey relations have been strained due to a number of disputes related to human rights and security and defense issues. Erdoğan recently pulled back from a threat to send home 10 Western ambassadors, including US Ambassador David M. Satterfield, over their support for the release of a jailed Turkish businessman, activist and philanthropist, Osman Kavala. One major source of US-Turkish discord: Turkey’s 2019 purchase of a Russian S-400 air defense system, which prompted Washington to block Ankara’s plan to buy more than 100 F-35 stealth multirole combat aircraft. Turkey made an advance payment of $1.4 billion for the F-35s and now wants 40 older-generation F-16 fighter jets and around 80 modernization kits for its existing warplanes, as compensation for the scuppered F-35 deal. Erdoğan, who was scheduled to speak at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, unexpectedly returned to Istanbul on Monday amid reports that he was dissatisfied with security arrangements in the UK, as well as rumors that his health was failing.