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Monday, March 27, 2023

Nato boss woos Turkey’s leader amid Swedish and Finnish membership bids

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Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg has met with Finland’s prime minister and spoken to Turkey’s president as he seeks to overcome Turkish resistance to Finland and Sweden joining the alliance.

Mr Stoltenberg, who visited Washington this week, tweeted late on Friday that he met with Finnish prime minister Sanna Marin while there and discussed “the need to address Turkey’s concerns and move forward” with the Finnish and Swedish membership applications.

Russia’s war in Ukraine pushed the Nordic countries to apply to join Nato, but Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accuses Sweden and Finland of supporting Kurdish militants deemed by Turkey to be terrorists.

Mr Stoltenberg said he had a “constructive phone call” with Mr Erdogan, calling Turkey a “valued ally” and praising Turkish efforts to broker a deal to ensure the safe transportation of grain supplies from Ukraine amid global food shortages caused by Russia’s invasion.

Mr Stoltenberg tweeted that he and Mr Erdogan would continue their dialogue, without elaborating.

The Nato chief’s diplomatic efforts came before a gathering of senior officials from Sweden, Finland and Turkey next week in Brussels, where Nato is based, to discuss Turkey’s opposition to the applications.

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