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Sweden says Turkey could ratify NATO admittance in 'weeks'

Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom said Wednesday that Turkey's foreign minister assured him it would approve Sweden's bid to join NATO within weeks. File Photo by Julien Warnand/EPA-EFE
Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom said Wednesday that Turkey's foreign minister assured him it would approve Sweden's bid to join NATO within weeks. File Photo by Julien Warnand/EPA-EFE

Nov. 29 (UPI) -- Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom said Wednesday that Turkey informed him that it would ratify his country's admittance to NATO in "weeks."

Billstrom said he spoke to Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan and received the assurance after Turkey has long presented the final hurdle for Sweden to join the military alliance.

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"He told me that he expected the ratification to take place within weeks. And of course, we don't take anything for granted from the side of Sweden, but we look forward to this being completed," Billstrom said.

Turkey has been a foil in preventing Sweden's entry into NATO over concerns about Koran burning and anti-Muslim sentiments there. That delayed Turkey's approval for months while Sweden sought protection from Russian aggression.

Billstrom added that Fidan did not present any new conditions or demands from the Turkish government to assure its acceptance into NATO.

Hungary has also held out on ratifying Sweden's membership and Billstrom said Wednesday "it is high time" that both countries get it done.

"We have a very dangerous moment in time for Europe and for the world -- and for NATO as an organization," Sweden's Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom said on Wednesday. "With the security deteriorating and also with the war in Ukraine, Sweden's membership in NATO is very important for the organization."

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The reassurance comes after the Turkish parliament's foreign affairs commission abruptly postponed a session to vote on Sweden's accession bid recently.

NATO's Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, in the meantime, said at a NATO meeting Wednesday that he wanted Sweden's approval immediately.

"The message from the NATO allies was very clear: that we would like to see ratification finalized as soon as possible," Stoltenberg said. "The sooner the better, because it will be good for Sweden, it will be good for NATO, and it will be good for all Nato allies to have Sweden as a full member."

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson visited President Joe Biden at the White House in June to get the Biden administration's help in getting into NATO.

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