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U.S. says working to clarify Turkey's position on Sweden, Finland NATO bid

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By Reuters
U.S. says working to clarify Turkey's position on Sweden, Finland NATO bid
U.S. says working to clarify Turkey's position on Sweden, Finland NATO bid   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2022

By Humeyra Pamuk and Simon Lewis

WASHINGTON -The United States is working to clarify Turkey’s position on Sweden and Finland’s potential membership to NATO, the top U.S. diplomat for Europe at the State Department said on Friday after Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said Ankara is not supportive of the two countries’ bid to join the alliance.

Erdogan said it was not possible for NATO-member Turkey to support plans by Sweden and Finland to join the pact given that the Nordic countries were “home to many terrorist organisations”.

In a call with reporters, Karen Donfried, Assistant Secretary for Europe and Eurasian Affairs at the State Department, said the topic will be discussed at the NATO ministerial meeting over the weekend in Berlin as foreign ministers from Turkey, Sweden and Finland among others will be attending.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken also will attend the NATO meeting in Berlin. It was not immediately clear if he would be holding a bilateral meeting with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu.

“In terms of the comments President Erdogan has made, we’re working to clarify Turkey’s position,” Donfried said.

Though Turkey has officially supported NATO enlargement since it joined the U.S.-led alliance 70 years ago, its opposition could pose a problem for Sweden and Finland given new members need unanimous agreement.

Donfried was cautious in her comments, and repeatedly said the Biden administration first needed to fully understand Ankara’s position on this. “It’s not clear to me that Turkey is saying they will oppose.”

“Turkey and Sweden have worked very effectively in the NATO context,” she added.