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NATO Chief: Turkey clears way for Finland, Sweden to join NATO

Turkey clears way for Finland, Sweden to join NATO
Turkey clears way for Finland, Sweden to join NATO
MADRID, June 28 (KUNA) -- NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Tuesday that his organization reached a deal to admit Sweden and Finland after resolving the concerns of holdout by Turkey.
In a press conference, on the sideline of NATO summit here in the Spanish capital, Stoltenberg said "I am pleased to announce that we now have an agreement that paves the way for Finland and Sweden to join NATO." "Turkey, Finland and Sweden have signed a memorandum that addresses Turkey's concerns, including around arms exports and the fight against terrorism," Stoltenberg added.
"Our joint memorandum underscores the commitment of Finland, Sweden and Turkey to extend their full support against threats to each other's security," the Finnish leader said.
"Us becoming NATO allies will further strengthen this commitment," he added.
The push to add Sweden and Finland to NATO comes as Russia's assault on Ukraine amplifies fears of other countries in the region.
Moscow, long wary of NATO expansion, has opposed the two nations' plans to join the alliance.
For their part, the Turkish presidency office said in a statement that Finland and Sweden also confirmed the separatist militant Kurdistan's Workers Party, also known as PKK, which Turkey, the US and EU consider a terrorist organization, is a "proscribed terrorist organization" and commit to prevent activities" of the PKK and all other terrorist organizations and their extensions." Turkey added the three countries agreed on not having national arms embargoes between them.
Turkey, Finland and Sweden committed to establishing an intelligence sharing mechanism to scale up counterterrorism operations and to combat organized crime.
The countries agreed Finland and Sweden will address Turkey's pending deportation or extradition requests of terror suspects "expeditiously and thoroughly." Finland and Sweden agreed to investigate and interdict any financing and recruitment activities of the PKK, considered a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the EU.
Meanwhile, Sweden's Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson hailed a "very good agreement" with Turkey to back Swedish and Finnish membership in NATO and said the move would make the alliance stronger.
"Taking the next step toward a full NATO membership is of course important for Sweden and Finland. But it's also a very important step for NATO, because our countries will be security providers within NATO," Andersson told reporters.
On another front, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson hailed Turkey's agreement to drop its objections to Finland's and Sweden's membership of NATO. "Fantastic news as we kick off the NATO Summit. Sweden and Finland's membership will make our brilliant alliance stronger and safer," Johnson wrote on Twitter. (Pickup previous) hnd.mb