Erdogan says he expects to discuss F-35 dispute with Biden

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Turkish president says he seeks to discuss the issue with the US leader on the sidelines of climate summit in Glasgow.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he expects to meet US President Joe Biden next week and take up Turkey’s removal from the US-led F-35 stealth fighter jet programme.

“Most likely we will have a meeting in Glasgow instead of Rome. Our most important issue will be the F-35,” Erdogan told reporters on his return from a trip to Azerbaijan on Wednesday.

The United States removed NATO ally Turkey from the international programme that produces the F-35 jets in 2019 over Ankara’s decision to buy Russia’s advanced S-400 surface-to-air missile defence system. Washington has said the Russian system compromises the F-35s’ security.

Erdogan said his government is seeking to recover a $1.4bn payment the country made before it was expelled from the F-35 programme, and the US proposed selling F-16 fighters to Turkey to make up for the payment.

Erdogan and Biden will both be attending the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow, Scotland, from October 31 to November 12.

Erdogan previously said he planned to meet with Biden during a G-20 meeting in Rome. “We have a $1.4bn payment regarding the F-35s. We need to discuss how the repayment plan will be.”

Kavala tensions

Erdogan’s comments came days after the Turkish leader stepped back from a threat to expel the ambassadors of the US and nine other Western nations for their support for Osman Kavala, a jailed activist and philanthropist, defusing a potential diplomatic crisis.

The envoys last week called for the release of Kavala, who has been in a Turkish prison for four years awaiting trial on charges that many have viewed as unfounded.

The crisis was averted after the embassies stated they comply with Article 41 of the Vienna Convention, which outlines diplomats’ duties to respect the laws of the host state and not to interfere in internal affairs.

Erdogan denied he had taken a step back in the crisis. “I am on the offensive. There is no back-stepping in my book,” he said.

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