US Senator Bob Menendez approves sale of F-35 fighter jets to Greece
The decision to fully greenlight the arms sales must also be approved by Republican Vice Chairman Jim Risch.
During the Delphi Economic Forum held in Washington on Wednesday, US Senator Bob Menendez, who heads the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee and who has also vowed to block the sale of fighter jets to Turkey unless it "adjusts its behavior", announced that he greenlighted the sale of F-35s to Greece, with whom Ankara has been periodically in conflict.
"I am pleased that two days ago I signed off for the F35-s to the Hellenic Republic and I did so not because I am simply a fan of the Greek people; I did so because this is a country that shares our values, that is aligned with us to things that are important in the world; democracy, human rights, rule of law, a country that is not belligerent to its neighbors," Menendez said during the event.
The senator noted that it would have been the same for any other country that shares similar values and interests to those of the US, and therefore, as the Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, he had no reason to refuse the arms sales.
Greek broadcaster ERT said that the decision to fully greenlight the arms sales must also be approved by Republican Vice Chairman Jim Risch.
Once his approval is obtained, the US government will then inform Congress of the sale of F-35s to Greece and enable Congress to prepare the formal procedure to ratify the deal.
Read more: Turkey may turn to Russia if US blocks F-16 sales: Erdogan
On July 1st, 2022, Greece sent an official purchase request to the United States to acquire 20 F-35 fighter jets in the first batch, then 20 in a second.
On January 27, Greece's Defense Minister, Nikos Panagiotopoulos, said that the US would respond to the request within two to three months.
Greece has actively lobbied against Ankara's request to purchase several F-16 fighter jets, a source of conflict that has until now been left unresolved amid mounting tensions between the two Mediterranean countries.
On January 30, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the US has not delivered the promised F-35 fighter fighters to Turkey, nor has it repaid the $1.4 billion it paid for F35s, adding that talks on F-16 deliveries have also halted.
Earlier in January, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that Ankara is awaiting US approval for the F-16 fighter jet sale.
On February 3, a bipartisan group of 29 senators called on US President Joe Biden to delay the $20 billion sale of F-16 fighters to Turkey until Ankara agrees on the accession of Sweden and Finland to NATO.
Read more: Turkey aims to boost domestic missile range, President pledges