https://ahvalnews.com-Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and U.S. President Joe Biden issued markedly different accounts of a phone call held between the two leaders on Thursday.
According to a read-out from Erdoğan‘s office, the Turkish president urged Biden to lift “unjust” U..S. sanctions on his country’s defence industry and insisted that the United States approve Turkey’s request to purchase 40 new F-16 fighter jets and modernise its existing fleet.
Turkey has been forced to rely on ageing F-16s after being removed from the next-generation F-35 fighter programme by the United States in 2019 for purchasing the Russian-made S-400 missile system.
Ankara’s efforts to update and expand its existing F-16s have since been complicated by U.S. sanctions imposed on Turkey’s defence industry over the S-400 purchase and opposition within the U.S. Congress.
A statement from Biden’s office following the call made no mention of U.S. sanctions on Turkey or the F-16 issue. The talks instead focused on responding to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the White House said.
“In addition, the presidents discussed opportunities to strengthen bilateral ties,” it added.
Biden’s own account of the talks similarly emphasised the need for action against Russia.
“We discussed the importance of continued international efforts to hold Moscow accountable for its aggression and to support the Ukrainian people as they confront this crisis,” he said in a social media post.
I spoke today with @RTErdogan to coordinate our responses to Russia’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine. We discussed the importance of continued international efforts to hold Moscow accountable for its aggression and to support the Ukrainian people as they confront this crisis.
— President Biden (@POTUS) March 10, 2022
NATO member Turkey has publicly backed Ukraine in its war with Russia, supplying armed drones to Kyiv for use in the conflict and limiting access to the Black Sea by Russian warships. But Ankara has stopped short of joining its Western allies in imposing sanctions on Russia as it seeks to limit the damage to its own already weakened economy and preserve relations with Moscow.
Ankara has repeatedly sought to play off Moscow and Washington against each other in an effort to secure concessions on issues such as both Russia and the United States’ record of support for Kurdish fighters in Syria.