Wednesday, March 6, 2013

US frigate donation halted ‘temporarily’

A U.S bill anticipating the donation of two frigates to Turkey with the authorization of President Barack Obama has failed due to technical, not political, reasons, according to Turkish diplomatic sources.

“Debates on the issue of the fiscal cliff kept the House of Representatives occupied for a long time. Thus, when the bill came to the Senate, there was a time pressure,” sources told the Hürriyet Daily News, explaining why the bill seeking permission to donate guided missile frigates to Turkey, Thailand and Mexico, could not be ratified by the Senate before the end of the legislative term on Jan. 3.

Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, chairwoman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, introduced the bill to the House on Dec. 11, 2012. The U.S. House of Representatives approved the bill on Dec. 31, 2012.

However, the motion required Senate approval for a free give-away of advanced American naval
vessels to Turkey to come into effect. The ships in question are the USS Halyburton (FFG-40) and the USS Thach (FFG-43).

The bill is expected to be re-introduced to the House in the next legislative term, according to sources.

The absence of Senate action at the end of the 112th Congress means that any legislation authorizing such a donation needs to be re-introduced for consideration during the 113th Congress.

“There was no political decision involved, this was solely a technical matter,” the sources added, referring to Washington-based rumors that the bill was blocked thanks to efforts by Greek, Armenian and Jewish lobbies.

The bill also elicited a harsh reaction from the Washington-based Hellenic American Leadership Council (HALC), which lobbied to prevent the provision of the naval vessels to Turkey.

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