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Turkey to hold NATO talks with Sweden next Thursday

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The top diplomats from Turkey and Sweden will meet at NATO headquarters next Thursday for talks on Stockholm’s bid to join the alliance, Agence France-Presse reported, citing NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg on Wednesday.

“The time is now to welcome Sweden as a full member of NATO,” Stoltenberg said at a news conference on Wednesday.

NATO counterparts have been pushing Turkey to grant the green light to Sweden by the time a summit is held in Lithuania on July 11-12.

But Ankara is still holding out after months of stalling Stockholm’s push to join the US-led military alliance.

Stoltenberg said earlier this week that the talks would include the foreign ministers and intelligence advisors from the Turkey, Sweden and Finland.

Sweden has been a NATO “invitee” since June 2022, but its membership bid, which must be ratified by all 31 member states, has been blocked by Turkey and Hungary.

Western officials have hoped Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would soften his position on the diplomatically charged issue after he secured a hard-fought re-election last month.

Western allies and Stockholm have insisted that Sweden has met the terms of a deal agreed with Ankara last year.

That accord includes a commitment to crack down on opposition Kurdish movements, such as the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), blacklisted by Ankara, which considers them “terrorist” groups.

Turkey dropped objections to Sweden’s Nordic neighbor Finland joining earlier in the year, and Helsinki became a NATO member in April.

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