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Turkey in NATO talks with Sweden, Finland

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has objected to Sweden and Finland joining NATO, has held phone calls with the leaders of the two countries and discussed his concerns about terrorist organisations.

Turkey says Sweden and Finland harbour people linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group and followers of Fethullah Gulen, whom he accuses of orchestrating a 2016 coup attempt.

Erdogan told Sweden’s Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson that Turkey expected concrete steps to address its concerns, according to the Turkish presidency.

He also said an arms exports embargo imposed on Turkey after its Syria incursion in 2019 should be lifted, it added.

Andersson said she appreciated the call and that Sweden hoped to strengthen bilateral relations with Turkey.

“I emphasised that Sweden welcomes the possibility of co-operation in the fight against international terrorism and emphasised that Sweden clearly supports the fight against terrorism and the terrorist listing of the PKK,” she added in a statement.

In another call, Erdogan told Finnish President Sauli Niinisto that failing to deal with terrorist organisations that posed a threat to a NATO ally would not suit the spirit of alliance, Ankara said.

Niinisto said he held “open and direct” talks with Erdogan and agreed to continue close dialogue.

Turkey surprised its NATO allies last week by objecting to the two countries’ accession to the military alliance but leaders of other members have expressed confidence that Turkey’s objections will not be a roadblock for the membership process.

All 30 NATO countries must give their approval before a new member can be admitted and thus benefit from the collective-security guarantee.

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