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President Biden Supports ‘Constructive Steps’ Between Greece and Turkey

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President Biden at the 2023 State of the Union Address. Credit: The White House

US President Joe Biden “expressed support for recent constructive steps” in the relationship between Greece and Turkey in a call with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday.

The White House said that Biden was supportive of “recent constructive steps” in relations between Greece and Turkey, and that Biden “reiterated his support for Israel’s right to defend itself” and emphasized “the need for a political horizon for the Palestinian people.”

Last week PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed a friendship declaration between Greece and Turkey in Athens in a symbolic move that confirms the warming of relations between the two nations.  The full text of the declaration can be found here.

Turkey and Greece should work together for a better future, the Greek Prime Minister said during a joint press conference with Erdogan. “We must live in peace, seek solutions to our differences,” he stated.

On his part, Erdogan said there is no issue between the two countries that cannot be resolved. “It is our hope to resolve our issues via constructive dialogue, and good neighborly relations within the framework of international law,” he said.

Biden, and Erdogan discuss F-16s for Turkey

White House spokesperson John Kirby told reporters at a briefing he would not be surprised if the issue of F-16 fighter jets was also discussed during the call.

“They talked about NATO and Sweden’s accession,” he said. “I certainly wouldn’t be surprised at all if it was also raised that we continue to support a modernization program for their F-16s.”

Sweden has asked to join NATO but has been left waiting due to resistance from members Turkey and Hungary.

Turkey had asked in October 2021 to buy 40 Lockheed Martin Corp F-16 fighters and 79 modernization kits for its existing warplanes.

The Biden administration backs the $20 billion sale, but there have been objections in the US Congress over Turkey’s delaying of NATO enlargement to bring in Sweden and over its human rights record.

Ben Cardin, the new chair of the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, said in late September that he would look at Turkey’s request for the F-16 fighter jets.

“I need to talk to the administration on a lot of these issues, because it’s beyond just one issue involved, and I need to understand that,” Cardin told reporters, one day after he took over leadership of the influential panel.

According to the White House, Biden and Erdogan talked about “the importance of welcoming Sweden as an Ally as soon as possible and further enhancing” Turkey’s “interoperability” with NATO.

In October Erdogan, removed one of the final hurdles blocking Sweden from joining NATO by submitting a bill approving membership to parliament for ratification.

The leaders also discussed efforts to increase humanitarian assistance to Gaza and protect civilians and the need for a political horizon for the Palestinian people.

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