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Turkey ‘stands by’ deal on Sweden joining NATO: Stoltenberg

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday that Turkey had assured allies it remains committed to a deal to ratify Sweden’s membership of the military alliance. Ankara is facing growing pressure from its NATO counterparts to approve Stockholm’s bid to join after well over a year of delay. Only Turkey and Hungary are yet to ratify Sweden’s membership after Stockholm dropped its long-standing policy of non-alignment to apply in the face of Russia’s war on Ukraine. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed at a NATO summit in Vilnius in July to put the ratification of Sweden’s membership before his parliament. But there has been no movement since Turkish lawmakers reconvened at the start of October. “The Turkish defence minister confirmed that Turkey stands by the agreement from Vilnius to finalise Swedish accession,” Stoltenberg said after a meeting of NATO defence ministers. “I now expect that the Turkish government will submit the accession protocol to the Grand National Assembly and work with the assembly to ensure speedy ratification.” Diplomats said all other NATO members at the meeting pushed Ankara and Budapest to approve Sweden’s bid to join. They say Turkey is looking to win concessions from main NATO power the United States over the sale modernised versions of F-16 fighter jets for its ageing air force. While the White House supports supplying the aircraft to Ankara, the US Congress is blocking the sale. Finland, which applied to join the NATO at the same time as Sweden, was granted membership in April.

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