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NATO turns on charm offensive with Turkey to settle Sweden's membership bid

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg and Sweden’s former premier Carl Bildt are scheduled to travel to Ankara to attend Erdogan's inauguration and convince the Turkish government to greenlight the Swedish membership.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks to the media before a meeting of the Ukraine Defence Contact Group at Ramstein Air Base on April 21, 2023 in Ramstein-Miesenbach, Germany. The group, which coordinates international military support for Ukraine, is meeting as allied countries are struggling to deliver sufficient amounts of artillery rounds and other ammunition to the Ukrainian military. (Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)

ANKARA — NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is set to travel to Turkey to attend President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s inauguration ceremony on Saturday, as part of a fresh charm offensive by the defense alliance to convince Ankara to admit Sweden.

Stoltenberg will also meet with Erdogan and senior Turkish officials during his two-day visit, according to an official announcement by NATO. 

Stoltenberg and Bildt in Turkey

The visit marks a fresh push by NATO and Stockholm to finalize Sweden’s accession to the North Atlantic alliance before the bloc’s summit in Vilnius, Lithuania on July 11-12. Along with Stoltenberg, Swedish former premier and friend of Turkey Carl Bildt will also attend the inauguration to represent Sweden, Stockholm announced on Friday. Bildt, who was one of the top backers of Turkey's European Union membership bid during his early years as the Swedish foreign minister, is widely respected in the Turkish diplomatic circles.

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