Sullivan Discussed NATO Expansion with Turkish Counterpart Kalin

Amid renewed concern that Ankara may block the pending additions of Sweden and Finland to NATO, US national security advisor Jake Sullivan made an unannounced trip to Turkey on Sunday for talks on the accession of the two Nordic countries to the bloc.

According to a White House statement, Sullivan met with his counterpart in President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s administration, Ibrahim Kalin, in Istanbul just one day after Erdogan renewed his threat to block Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership unless they fulfill the conditions of an agreement signed in June.

The Turkish leader stressed on Saturday that Ankara will maintain its principled position until the promises made to Turkey are upheld. In line with June’s agreement, Helsinki and Stockholm must stop their alleged support of organizations Ankara views as terrorist groups and approve the extradition of over 30 people accused of terrorism.

The accession process of the two Nordic nations is currently in a state of limbo as the new members of the US-led bloc must be unanimously ratified with Turkey and Hungary being the only two states in the bloc that has yet to formally approve it.

The White House said that Sullivan and Kalin discussed their support for peace negotiations between Azerbaijan and Armenia as well as the importance of diplomacy and dialogue in resolving the disagreements in the eastern Mediterranean.

They also discussed their continued support for Ukraine and their condemnation of Russia’s illegal annexation of occupied Ukrainian territory. Sullivan, as the statement notes, thanked Kalin and Turkey for their efforts to facilitate Ukrainian grain exports and help in mediation the release of Ukrainian POWs.

Ankara’s efforts to balance its close relations with both Moscow and Kyiv, playing the role of mediator, has led to clashes with Washington over Turkey’s refusal to join in international sanctions against Russia.

The Biden administration’s decision to lift defense trade restrictions on Cyprus have further strained last month Ankara’s relations with Washington, prompting the country to vow to boost its military presence in Northern Cyprus.

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