- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 29, 2022

President Biden on Wednesday thanked Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for dropping his opposition to Finland and Sweden becoming members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, paving the way for a historic expansion of the military alliance.

Turkey had objected to the two nations joining the 30-country military alliance because of what it characterized as inaction against exiled Kurdish militants.

Mr. Erdogan reversed course Tuesday allowing NATO membership, after reaching an agreement with the Nordic countries. Under the agreement, Finland and Sweden will not provide support to Kurdish militants, which Turkey views as terrorists.

Finland and Sweden also agreed to halt support for an Islamic sect that Turkey blamed for a failed coup in 2016.

“I want to particularly thank you for what you did putting together the situation with regard to Finland and Sweden and all the incredible work you are doing to get the grain out of Ukraine and Russia,” Mr. Biden told his Turkish counterpart. “You are doing a great job. I want to thank you.”

Mr. Erdogan said Mr. Biden’s push to include Finland and Sweden in NATO will bolster the NATO alliance, especially as it deals with Russia’s war in Ukraine.

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“We think your pioneering in this regard is going to be crucial in terms of strengthening NATO for the future and it’s going to have a very positive contribution to the process between Ukraine and Russia,” he said through an interpreter.

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

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