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Biden speaks to Erdogan, stresses need for Sweden's NATO accession

by Nate Ostiller and The Kyiv Independent news desk December 15, 2023 10:50 AM 2 min read
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks to the media during a joint press conference with President Volodymyr Zelensky on July 8, 2023, in Istanbul, Turkey. (Photo credit: Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
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U.S. President Joe Biden spoke with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on Dec. 14 and discussed "the importance of welcoming Sweden as a (NATO member) as soon as possible."

Turkey has delayed Sweden's accession into the alliance, dragging out the process for more than 17 months since Sweden initially applied in May 2022. Turkey has cited Sweden's alleged support for Kurdish groups that Turkey considers to be terrorists, which Sweden denies.

Finland also applied to join NATO in May 2022 and was admitted as a member in March 2023.

Erdogan signed a protocol on Sweden's NATO accession on Oct. 23, which was then sent to parliament for final ratification. The parliament then delayed a vote on the issue, with Turkish lawmakers saying that Sweden's accession was not as urgent for Turkey as it was for other countries.

The press statement on Biden and Erdogan's call did not specify the details of their conversation regarding Sweden's membership bid.

U.S. National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby confirmed that the two leaders discussed Sweden and suggested that it was likely they also raised the idea of the U.S. assisting with a "modernization program" for Turkey's F-16 fighter jets.

Erdogan has previously said that he would ratify Sweden's accession to NATO if the U.S. agreed to sell F-16s to Turkey.

Even after Sweden secures final approval from Turkey, there are signs that Hungary, another NATO member and previous holdout on Finland's accession, may also cause delays.

Ukraine war latest: Zelensky visits US military base in Germany
Key developments on Dec. 14: * Zelensky arrives in Germany, visits US military base * Explosions heard in Kyiv, Khmelnytskyi Oblast in Russian missile attack on Ukraine * European Council agrees to open accession talks with Ukraine, Moldova * Putin: Russia allocating $11 billion per year to ’in…

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