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Turkey lifting objections to Sweden, Finland joining NATO

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg arrives for a media conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels, June 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg arrives for a media conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels, June 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)

Turkey has agreed to lift its opposition to Sweden and Finland joining NATO, a breakthrough in an impasse clouding a leaders’ summit in Madrid amid Europe’s worst security crisis in decades triggered by the war in Ukraine.

After urgent top-level talks, alliance Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says “we now have an agreement that paves the way for Finland and Sweden to join NATO.”

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has prompted Sweden and Finland to abandon their long-held nonaligned status and apply to join NATO. But Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had blocked the move, insisting the Nordic pair change their stance on Kurdish rebel groups that Turkey considers terrorists.

Finnish President Sauli Niinistö says the three countries’ leaders signed a joint agreement after talks today.

Turkey says it had “got what it wanted” including “full cooperation… in the fight against” the rebel groups.

The agreement comes at the opening of a crucial summit dominated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. US President Joe Biden and other NATO leaders arrived in Madrid for a summit that will set the course of the alliance for the coming years. The summit kicks off with a leaders’ dinner hosted by Spain’s King Felipe VI at the 18th-century Royal Palace of Madrid.

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