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The United States hopes for a positive, Sweden, Finland NATO solution

Written by Javed Iqbal

US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Karen Donfried attends Moldova Donors’ Conference to Assist the Country with the Influx of Ukrainian Refugees, in Berlin, Germany, April 5, 2022. REUTERS / Hannibal Hanschke

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WASHINGTON, June 22 (Reuters) – The United States is hopeful that there will soon be a positive solution to the issues between Turkey, Finland and Sweden regarding the two Nordic countries’ NATO accession offer, said the Foreign Ministry’s top diplomat for Europe. Wednesday.

Karen Donfried, assistant secretary for Europe and Eurasian affairs, said at a hearing in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) that Washington understood that the negotiations between the parties had been constructive earlier in the week.

“We are convinced that this will be resolved in a positive way. There is broad and deep support across the NATO alliance for Finnish and Swedish accession,” she said.

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Finland and Sweden applied for NATO membership in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But bidders have faced opposition from Turkey, which has become angry over what it says is Helsinki and Stockholm’s support for Kurdish militants and arms embargoes against Ankara.

NATO leaders meet in Madrid on 29-30. June. Any NATO membership requires the approval of all 30 members of the Alliance. Turkey has been a NATO ally for more than 70 years and has the alliance’s second largest army.

Asked if Donfried believed whether all parties would be on the same page at next week’s Madrid summit, she said: “I would say we are definitely pushing for that.”

Speaking to journalists in Brussels earlier this week following talks with top officials from Sweden, Finland and NATO, Turkey’s senior officials did not express the same sense of urgency as Donfried, saying the NATO summit was not a deadline.

Any progress with the Nordic membership offers “now depends on the direction and speed with which these countries will take steps,” said Turkish Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin. Read more

BIDEN-ERDOGAN MEETING?

While the problem is officially between Sweden, Finland and Turkey, many analysts have speculated that a more direct involvement from Biden could facilitate a breakthrough.

Some believe such involvement could be a bilateral meeting between Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Biden.

In a call with journalists, a senior administration official described Biden’s next bilateral meetings with world leaders on the sidelines of the upcoming G7 and NATO summits, but did not announce one with Erdogan.

“Although the format of these meetings obviously leaves ample opportunity for leaders to engage in the margin,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Relations between the United States and Turkey remain strained, as the two NATO allies disagree on a number of issues, including Syria’s policy and Ankara’s purchase of Russian defense systems.

Biden and Erdogan last met in person in October 2021 on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Rome.

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Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Josie Kao

Our standards: Thomson Reuters trust principles.

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Javed Iqbal

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