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US says it’s time for Finland and Sweden to join NATO

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration said Thursday it was time for Turkey to ratify Finland’s and Sweden’s NATO membership applications, saying bluntly that recalcitrant members of the alliance should quickly approve their membership.

The State Department said Secretary of State Antony Blinken affirmed his strong support for Finland and Sweden in phone calls with their foreign ministers and said the United States placed great importance to “the remaining allies promptly ratifying their accession”.

In nearly identical statements on the two calls released just 13 minutes apart, State Department spokesman Ned Price said Blinken had “reiterated U.S. support for Finland and Sweden to NATO”.

“He again expressed our firm belief that Finland and Sweden are ready to join the alliance,” Price said of the calls with Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom and Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto. “The United States urges the remaining allies to ratify their membership quickly.”

The statements did not mention Turkey by name, but the calls came just a day after Blinken met with the foreign minister of Turkey, whose country is NATO’s most ardent recalcitrant to joining NATO. Finland and Sweden to the alliance.

Both countries applied for NATO membership last year after being alarmed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Only two of the alliance’s 30 members – Hungary and Turkey – have yet to ratify their membership, although Hungary’s ratification is considered a formality and expected soon.

Turkey, meanwhile, has raised significant objections to the Nordic countries joining the alliance, citing their support for Kurdish groups that Ankara sees as terrorist threats. Turkey demanded that Sweden in particular do more to contain these Kurdish groups before agreeing to NATO membership.

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