NATO chief to visit Turkey to push Sweden's accession

Oslo, Jun 2 (IANS): Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General, has said that he is working hard to ensure Sweden's accession to the alliance is completed as soon as possible, and that he will soon travel to Turkey to facilitate the process.

He made the remarks on Thursday at a press conference after the conclusion of a two-day informal meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Oslo, Norway's capital. The meeting was also attended by Sweden's foreign minister, but Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was notably absent.

Stoltenberg welcomed Sweden's new anti-terrorism laws that entered into force on Thursday, Xinhua news agency reported.

"That shows that Sweden has delivered on what they committed to do under the Trilateral Memorandum concluded last year in Madrid (by Finland, Sweden and Turkey)," he said.

In March, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed to ask his country's Parliament to vote on Finland's NATO membership bid, but delayed that of Sweden, arguing that Turkey still expected Sweden to extradite 120 members of what it considers terrorist groups before his country approaches the Swedish membership bid "positively".

Stoltenberg called the informal meeting of foreign ministers an "opportunity to discuss key issues as we prepare for our summit in Vilnius (Lithuania) in July".

"(At the summit) we will take decisions to further strengthen our deterrence and defence. We will agree a new Defense Investment Pledge, with two per cent of GDP spent on defence as the minimum," he said.

He told reporters that the foreign ministers also discussed upgrading the existing NATO-Ukraine Commission to a new NATO-Ukraine Council.



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Title: NATO chief to visit Turkey to push Sweden's accession

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