Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Friday he plans to continue blocking the Biden administration’s plan to sell military aircraft to Turkey.
“As I have repeatedly made clear, I strongly oppose the Biden administration’s proposed sale of new F-16 aircraft to Turkey,” Menendez said in a statement.
“President Erdogan continues to undermine international law, disregard human rights and democratic norms, and engage in alarming and destabilizing behavior in Turkey and against neighboring NATO allies.”
The Democrat added that he would continue to oppose the deal – still in review – “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.”
The $20 billion deal would require congressional approval, which would also be contingent on Turkey approving of Sweden and Finland’s applications to join NATO in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year.
The State Department advised Congress on Thursday of its intent to go through with deal, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Turkey made the request for the warplanes a little more than a year ago.
Menendez said he does approve of a proposed sale of 40 F-55s to Greece.
On Saturday, an Erdogan spokesperson called U.S. demands related to the potential sale “endless.”
“If they keep pushing Turkey in other directions with F-16 (and) F-35 sanctions, and then Turkey reacts, they blame Turkey again, then that’s not a fair game,” he said. “It looks like their list of demands is endless. There’s always something.”
Reuters contributed to this report.