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USA: The time has come for Sweden to join NATO

2023-05-31 08:49:00, Kosova & Bota CNA

USA: The time has come for Sweden to join NATO

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Tuesday that "the time has come" for Turkey to drop its objections to Sweden's NATO membership, and said the Biden administration also believes Turkey should be provided with fighter jets F -16 "as soon as possible".

Blinken also said the administration does not view the two issues as linked, but acknowledged that some US lawmakers do.

On Monday, President Joe Biden indirectly linked the two issues during a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

"I spoke to Erdogan and he still wants to work on something for the F-16. I told him that we want an agreement with Sweden. So let's do it," Biden said.

Despite this, Blinken insisted that the two issues were different. However, he emphasized that accomplishing both would dramatically strengthen European security. "Both of these are vital, in our view, for European security," Blinken told reporters at a joint press conference in the northern Swedish city of Lulea with Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson.

“We believe that both should move forward as quickly as possible; means accepting Sweden and moving forward on the F-16 package more broadly." "We believe the time is now," Blinken said.

He declined to predict when Turkey and Hungary, the only other NATO member that has not yet ratified Sweden's membership, would give their approval.

But, he said, "we have no doubt that it can, should, and we expect it will" by the time the alliance's leaders meet in Vilnius, Lithuania in July for an annual summit.

Fresh off a resounding re-election victory over the weekend, Erdogan may be willing to tone down his opposition to Sweden's membership.

Erdogan accuses Sweden of failing to respond to groups Ankara considers terrorists, and a series of Koran-burning protests in Stockholm angered his religious support base - making his hard line against Sweden even more popular.

Kristersson said the two sides had been in contact since Sunday's vote and expressed no hesitation in talking about the benefits Sweden will bring to NATO "when we join the alliance."

Blinken is in Sweden to attend a meeting of the US-EU Trade and Technology Council and will travel to Oslo, Norway, on Wednesday for a meeting of NATO foreign ministers before heading to member Finland newly accepted of the alliance, on Friday.

Speaking in Oslo ahead of a meeting of foreign ministers, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the goal is for Sweden to become part of the Alliance before the leaders' summit in July.

"There are no guarantees, but it is absolutely possible to reach a solution and enable the decision on Sweden's full membership by the Vilnius summit," said Stoltenberg./ Rel

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