Turkish state media: Talks to be held on Finland’s NATO bid

ISTANBUL (AP) — Finnish officials will arrive in Ankara on Tuesday to discuss their country’s bid to join NATO, Turkey’s state-run news agency reported Saturday.

A delegation from Finland’s Justice Ministry will meet Kasim Cicek, the head of foreign relations at the Turkish Ministry of Justice, Anadolu Agency said. The talks will focus on the extradition of individuals Turkey regards as terrorists, the report added.

Both Finland and its neighbor Sweden applied for membership of the defense alliance in the wake of Russia’s February invasion of Ukraine, abandoning longstanding policies of military nonalignment. Becoming a NATO member requires the unanimous support of all current members, including Turkey.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday that he had also agreed to meet with Sweden’s new prime minister, Ulf Kristersson, in Ankara.

Turkey has threatened to block the process unless Finland and Sweden meet its demands. In particular Ankara wants them to crack down on people it considers terrorists, such as supporters of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, and members of a group said to have orchestrated a failed coup in 2016.

Turkey also has called for the lifting of an arms embargo imposed following its 2018 incursion into northern Syria to combat Kurdish militants. Sweden last month said it would lift the embargo, a step seen as aiming to secure Ankara’s approval.

Only the parliaments of Turkey and Hungary have yet to ratify the accession of Finland and Sweden.

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