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Biden, Erdogan Discuss Sweden’s NATO Bid Ahead of Summit

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has discussed Sweden’s NATO bid with his US counterpart Joe Biden over the phone ahead of the alliance’s summit this week.

The two leaders also discussed Ukraine’s position in NATO, the delivery of F-16 fighter jets and Turkey’s efforts to join the EU, according to a statement by Erdogan’s office released on Sunday.

During the phone call, Erdogan noted “Sweden has taken some steps in the right direction” toward the ratification of its NATO bid by making changes in its anti-terrorism legislation, said the statement.

However, the Turkish leader said these steps were “nullified” as the supporters of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) “continue to hold demonstrations freely in the country to advocate terrorism”.

Erdogan also stressed that it was not correct to associate Turkey’s F-16 purchase from the US with Sweden’s NATO bid, referring to several objections from the US Congress to Ankara’s purchase demand for F-16s over its veto of Sweden’s NATO membership.

The two presidents agreed to meet face-to-face to discuss bilateral ties and regional issues in detail at the NATO summit in Lithuania’s capital Vilnius on July 11-12, according to the statement.

Regarding Turkey’s EU bid, Erdogan told Biden that his country was “principled and honest” about EU membership, appealing to revive its membership process and hoping for getting a clear and strong message of support from leading countries of the EU at the upcoming Vilnius Summit.

Biden, for his part, conveyed to Erdogan his desire to welcome Sweden into NATO as soon as possible, according to a White House statement.

Sweden and Finland applied to join NATO last year but met with objections from Turkey on the grounds that the two countries harbour members of PKK and the Gulen movement, Xinhua news agency reported.

Turkey eventually lifted its objection to Finland’s NATO accession earlier this year after Helsinki took what Ankara calls “concrete steps” against such organisations.

In April, Finland became NATO’s 31st member state.

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