My comments to the media this morning have been misinterpreted, and I would like to clarify them.
Before anything else, I would like to emphasize that the United States Government has excellent cooperation with Croatia and with the Government of Prime Minister Andrej Plenković. We had a productive meeting this morning on several bilateral issues.
Equally, the United States has strongly supported and will continue to support Croatia’s acquisition of fighter aircraft. Specifically, we supported the Israeli sale and did everything we could to make it happen.
We have coordinated closely with the Croatian government throughout its decision-making process, including through numerous e-mails, papers, and meetings. The document I mentioned this morning is not as important as it has been presented in some media. It was part of our technical-level exchanges with the authorities, and it provides information on the U.S. third party transfer process, which would apply to any such transfer. Counter to what some press have reported, the United States did not at any time advise the Croatian government not to purchase the Israeli F-16s.
Separately, the U.S. was in bilateral discussions with Israel on the conditions for a possible transfer of the aircraft. Unfortunately, as sometimes happens in negotiations – and through no fault of the Croatian government’s – the United States and Israel were not able to come to agreement on conditions for the transfer. This is a setback, but not a failure. I understand Croatia is still committed to acquiring fighter aircraft, and we are still committed to supporting that effort.
Throughout this process, the Croatian government has shown its determination to secure the best aircraft at the best price. Croatia remains a key strategic partner for the United States, and that will not change.