Menendez vows to block plan to sell fighter jets to Turkey reports Politico

Bob Menendez Mitsotakis

The senator blasted Turkey's human rights record in a statement.

The chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is vowing to continue blocking the transfer of warplanes to Turkey unless Ankara improves its human rights record and ceases threatening U.S. regional allies reports Politico earlier this morning.

The Biden administration is considering a $20 billion transfer of 40 U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets to Turkey and, separately, F-35 fighter jets for Greece, a development first reported by the Wall Street Journal on Friday and later confirmed by a person familiar with discussions who spoke to POLITICO on condition of anonymity.

Such a deal would require congressional approval and for Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to end his longstanding opposition to sending fighter jets to Ankara.

But in a statement Menendez’s office drafted for the media and obtained ahead of time by POLITICO, the senator said he hasn’t changed his mind.

“I strongly oppose the Biden administration’s proposed sale of new F-16 aircraft to Turkey,” Menendez says, blasting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for continuing to “undermine international law, disregard human rights and democratic norms, and engage in alarming and destabilizing behavior in Turkey and against neighboring NATO allies.”

“Until Erdogan ceases his threats, improves his human rights record at home — including by releasing journalists and political opposition — and begins to act like a trusted ally should, I will not approve this sale,” the chair continued, noting he supports the F-35 sale to Greece.