President Joe Biden in his Thursday press conference from the Madrid NATO summit claimed that he's never waivered on supporting a new F-16 sale to Turkey, also emphasizing in response to a reporter's question that there was "no quid pro quo" with Erdogan regarding Finland and Sweden's entry into NATO.
"Biden at press conference says the United States should sell Turkey the F-16 fighter jets but adds there was no quid pro quo in relation to Ankara's lifting of its veto for Finland and Sweden," a Reuters correspondent writes of his latest statements. "Says Congress approval needed for sale but he's confident that can obtained."
The day prior, the US assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs Celeste Wallander previewed the White House stance in saying, "Strong Turkish defense capabilities contribute to strong NATO defense capabilities." She added, "The US Department of Defense fully supports Turkey’s modernization plans for its F-16 fleet."
Concerning the assertion that there was "no quid pro quo", the statements come the day after Biden and Erdogan met on the sidelines of the two-day NATO summit. One regional report emphasized of that meeting:
On the same day, Biden thanked Erdogan profusely for revoking his opposition to the entry of Finland and Sweden into NATO.
"I want to particularly thank you for what you did putting together the situation with regard to Finland and Sweden," Biden told Erdogan at a meeting on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Madrid.
So it looks precisely like Turkey's sudden flip on the NATO membership question was centered on the US offering to grease the wheels and fully back and expedite approval for the F-16 transfer.
Starting in October, Turkey said it formally requested of Washington approval to buy 40 Lockheed Martin-made F-16 fighter jets and nearly 80 modernization kits, which would upgrade its current fleet of fighter jets.
Erdogan's government had been consistent in denouncing Swedish and Finish "support" for Kurdish "terrorist" groups, namely the outlawed PKK and its affiliates, for example in northern Syria. The two countries agreed this week to designate it a terrorist organization, while agreeing to other demands of Ankara regarding things like extraditing alleged terror operatives back to Turkey.
Was the F-16 deal Erdogan's "reward" for lifting objections over Finland and Sweden's accession? It certainly appears so.