Sweden welcomes Turkish leader's possible meeting with new premier over NATO bid

Turkish President Erdogan signals possible meeting with Swedish premier in Türkiye, says Ankara's stance remains unchanged.

Sweden welcomes Turkish leader's possible meeting with new premier over NATO bid

Sweden's Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom on Friday welcomed the Turkish president's decision to meet with Sweden's new prime minister to discuss the Nordic country's NATO bid.

"This news is a very, very positive one. We believe that the close dialogue and close consultations with all the three parties of his trilateral memorandum is the way forward and of course, sitting down with our partners and talks between our prime minister and President (Recep Tayyip) Erdogan is a natural part of this," Billstrom said at a news conference with his Finnish counterpart Pekka Haavisto in Helsinki.

Billstrom's remarks came after Erdogan's announcement of a possible meeting with new Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson in Türkiye to discuss Sweden's NATO membership bid.

Erdogan said on Thursday: "Meanwhile, Sweden's new prime minister requested an appointment. I told our friends: 'Give an appointment.' We'll discuss these issues with him in our country as well. Our stance on this point has not changed. They must catch the terrorists who have been convicted and hand them over to us."

Haavisto, for his part said Finland is also in close dialogue for its NATO bid.

Sweden and Finland formally applied to join NATO in June, a decision spurred by Russia's war on Ukraine.

However, Türkiye, a NATO member for over 70 years, voiced objections to the membership bids, criticizing the two countries for tolerating and even supporting terrorist groups.

The three countries signed a trilateral memorandum of understanding at NATO's June summit in Madrid, which stipulates that Finland and Sweden will not provide support to the YPG/PYD -- the PKK terrorist group's Syrian offshoot, or the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), the group behind the 2016 defeated coup in Türkiye.

Finland and Sweden also agreed to address Ankara's pending deportation or extradition requests for terror suspects.

Türkiye's parliament must ratify the country's approval for Finland and Sweden's membership for them to join NATO.

Hüseyin Demir

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