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Turkey’s standing in NATO unchanged despite comments on Finland, Sweden -Pentagon

file photo: turkey's president tayyip erdogan holds a news conference during the nato summit at the alliance's headquarters in brussels, belgium
Sources said talks between Turkish officials and delegations from Sweden and Finland have made little headway overcoming Ankara's objections to their NATO membership bids.

The United States is working to clarify Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s comments about Finland and Sweden but Ankara’s standing in the Nato alliance had not changed because of them, the Pentagon said on Friday.

Erdogan said on Friday it was not possible for Nato-member Turkey to support plans by Sweden and Finland to join the pact given that the Nordic countries were “home to many terrorist organisations.”

“Nothing changes about their standing in the Nato alliance… we’re working to better clarify (their) position,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters.

In a call with reporters, Karen Donfried, Assistant Secretary for Europe and Eurasian Affairs at the US State Department, said the topic will be discussed at the Nato ministerial meeting over the weekend in Berlin as foreign ministers from Turkey, Sweden and Finland among others will be attending.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken also will attend the Nato meeting in Berlin. It was not immediately clear if he would be holding a bilateral meeting with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu.

In terms of the comments President Erdogan has made, we’re working to clarify Turkey‘s position,” Donfried said.

Though Turkey has officially supported Nato enlargement since it joined the U.S.-led alliance 70 years ago, its opposition could pose a problem for Sweden and Finland given new members need unanimous agreement.

Donfried was cautious in her comments, and repeatedly said the Biden administration first needed to fully understand Ankara’s position on this. “It’s not clear to me that Turkey is saying they will oppose.”

Turkey and Sweden have worked very effectively in the Nato context,” she added.

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