President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan could meet his American counterpart Joe Biden on the sidelines of the next week’s NATO summit in Lithuania; sources briefed on the planning said
A brief Erdoğan-Biden meeting is possible at the summit and is being worked on now, one person familiar with the matter told Reuters.
A “pull-aside” meeting between the leaders is possible but has not yet been arranged, a U.S. official said.
Türkiye remains a vocal opponent of Sweden’s bid to join the military alliance and has delayed its final approval of the Nordic country’s membership, accusing it of being too lenient toward anti-Islamic demonstrations as well as terrorist entities, including the PKK terrorist group.
Biden, on the other hand, is a strong supporter, and the topic is likely to dominate any conversation between the two leaders.
Speaking after talks with the Turkish and Swedish foreign ministers on Thursday at the security alliance’s headquarters in Brussels, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Swedish membership was “within reach.”
Stoltenberg said he would convene a meeting between Erdoğan and Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson in Vilnius on Monday, on the eve of the NATO summit, to bridge the gap between the two sides.
Sweden and its neighbor Finland dropped decades of military non-alignment and applied to join NATO in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
All NATO members must approve membership application to the alliance and while Finland’s was green-lighted in April, Türkiye and Hungary have yet to clear Sweden’s bid. Stockholm has been working to join next week’s summit.
Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan said Sweden needed to show its legal amendments were being applied.
“Sweden took some steps regarding legal changes, removed defense industry restrictions against Türkiye … The legal changes should be put into practice now,” Fidan told reporters on Thursday.
On Wednesday, Biden received Kristersson in the White House in a show of support for Stockholm. At the same time, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Fidan to encourage Türkiye to support Sweden’s membership bid.