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NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg makes last-ditch effort to grant Sweden membership ahead of summit

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Monday that he will call an urgent meeting in the coming days to try to overcome Turkish objections to Sweden joining the military organization. It’s a last-ditch effort to have the Nordic country standing alongside the allies at a major summit next month.

NATO requires the unanimous approval of all members to expand. Turkey accuses Sweden of being too lenient toward groups that Ankara says pose a security threat, including militant Kurdish groups and people associated with a 2016 coup attempt.

Stoltenberg said he has held fresh talks on Sweden’s candidacy with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as well as senior officials from Sweden and neighboring Finland, which became the 31st member of the world’s biggest security organization in April.

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“We agreed to convene a high-level meeting in Brussels before the summit” in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius beginning July 11, Stoltenberg told reporters. “The aim is to make progress in completing Sweden’s accession to NATO.”

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a press conference at Exercise Griffin Storm 2023 near Vilnius, Lithuania, on June 26, 2023.  (AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis)

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He provided no date for the meeting, but said that it would involve foreign ministers, intelligence chiefs and national security advisors.

Fearing they might be targeted by Moscow after Russia invaded Ukraine last year, Sweden and Finland abandoned their traditional positions of military nonalignment to seek protection under NATO’s security umbrella.

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Hungary is also delaying its approval of Sweden’s candidacy but has never clearly stated publicly what its concerns are. NATO officials expect that it will follow suit once Turkey lifts its objections.

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