The US national security adviser has traveled to Istanbul to discuss Sweden’s and Finland’s accession to the bloc
US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan has made an unannounced trip to Turkey to meet with his counterpart in President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s administration amid renewed concerns that Ankara could block the pending additions of Sweden and Finland to NATO.
Sullivan met on Sunday in Istanbul with Ibrahim Kalin, Erdogan’s chief adviser, to discuss continued support for Kyiv in the Russia-Ukraine conflict and “progress in NATO membership for Finland and Sweden,” according to a White House statement. statement.
The talks came just a day after Erdogan renewed his threat to block NATO expansion unless the two Nordic countries meet the terms of an agreement signed in June.
“Until the promises made to our country are upheld, we will maintain our principled position,” the Turkish leader said on Saturday. Ankara has demanded that Helsinki and Stockholm stop their alleged support for organizations it sees as terrorist groups, and has reportedly requested the extradition of more than 30 people accused of terrorism.
“We are closely following whether the promises from Sweden and Finland are kept or not, and of course the final decision will be up to our great parliament,” Erdogan added.
Turkey and Hungary are the only two states in the US-led military bloc that have yet to formally approve the accession of the two Nordic nations, leaving the process in a state of limbo as the alliance must unanimously ratify new members.
Sullivan and Kalin also discussed “their condemnation of Russia’s attempted illegal annexation of Ukrainian territory,” the White House said. The US adviser thanked Turkey for its efforts to facilitate the export of Ukrainian grain and help secure the release of Ukrainian prisoners of war.
The US and Turkey have clashed over Ankara’s refusal to join international sanctions against Russia since Moscow’s military offensive began in February. Ankara has sought to balance its close relations with both Moscow and Kyiv, playing the role of mediator, while criticizing the decision to hold referendums in four former Ukrainian regions that voted overwhelmingly last week to join Russia. Relations with Washington were further strained last month, when President Joe Biden’s administration decided to lift defense trade restrictions on Cyprus. Turkey responded by promising to increase its military presence in northern Cyprus.
The White House said Sullivan and Kalin discussed “the importance of dialogue and diplomacy to resolve any differences in the Eastern Mediterranean,” as well as their support for peace talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Sullivan also met on Sunday with Andrey Yermak, a senior aide to Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky. The US adviser “conveyed that the US and its allies and partners” remain fully committed to Kyiv, vowing that the US “will impose severe costs on any individual, entity or country that supports Russia’s alleged annexation” of Ukrainian territories.