President Biden and Turkish President Erdogan spoke on Sunday about the US F-16s.
Turkey drops its opposition to Sweden’s bid to join NATO, a major development on the eve of the alliance’s 74th annual summit in Vilnius, Lithuania.
President Joe Biden praised the announcement and it comes a day after he spoke with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan about the US F-16s to Ankara, although any direct contact was not clear.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced on Monday that an agreement had been reached between him, Erdogan and Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Christson.
Stoltenberg called it a “historic step” that would strengthen NATO allies.
Biden, who has been outspoken in support of Sweden’s membership, was quick to celebrate the breakthrough.
“I welcome the statement from Turkey, Sweden and the Secretary General of NATO this evening, including President Erdogan’s commitment to transmit Sweden’s accession protocol to Turkey’s Grand National Assembly for prompt ratification,” Biden said in a statement.
“I am ready to work with President Erdogan and Turkey to strengthen defense and deterrence in the Euro-Atlantic region,” he added. “I look forward to welcoming Prime Minister Christerson and Sweden as our 32nd NATO Ally. I thank Secretary General Stoltenberg for his steadfast leadership.”
according to press release From NATO, Erdogan agreed to quickly send Sweden’s accession protocol to parliament in exchange for new commitments on terrorism and economic cooperation, including the creation of a special coordinator for counterterrorism within NATO.
The Scandinavian nation’s bid also faced opposition from Hungary. Unanimous approval of all member states is required in order to join the organization.
Stoltenberg said on Monday that Hungary has made clear it will not be the last country to ratify Sweden’s request, and believes “the problem will be solved.”
Biden pushed for Sweden to be part of the coalition in the Oval Office meeting with Kristersson last week.
Biden told the prime minister that “the United States fully and completely supports Sweden’s membership in NATO.” “The end result is simple: Sweden will make our alliance stronger and have the same value that we have in NATO. I look forward to your membership.”
The White House said the president also expressed his desire to grant Sweden’s request in a phone call with Erdogan on Sunday.
The two leaders also discussed the delivery of US F-16 fighter jets to Turkey during the call, which lasted 45 minutes to an hour, White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters.
Sullivan did not provide a direct answer when asked if Biden’s willingness to provide the equipment was in exchange for Turkey allowing Sweden to join NATO.
“President Biden has been clear, consistently, that he believes that for the coalition and for the bilateral relationship between the United States and Turkey, moving forward with the sale makes sense. It’s in our interest,” Sullivan said. “He also believes that Sweden joining NATO is very much in our interest. And we have to do both. Doing both things will give real impetus and impetus to NATO and to the bilateral relationship between the United States and the United States of Turkey.”
Biden arrived in Lithuania on Monday after a stop in London, where he met British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and King Charles III. He and Erdogan are scheduled to meet on Tuesday morning in Vilnius.
The NATO summit is expected to focus on continued aid to Ukraine as it launched its counter-offensive against the Russian invaders.
ABC’s Fritz Farrow and Molly Nagel contributed to this report.
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