US and Turkey officials discuss Ukraine and NATO at an

US and Turkey officials discuss Ukraine and NATO at an unannounced meeting

By Catherine Jackson

WASHINGTON (Portal) – US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan met with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s chief adviser Ibrahim Kalin in Istanbul on Sunday and discussed “progress on Finland’s and Sweden’s NATO accession,” the White House said in an explanation.

The two, whose meeting was previously unannounced to the media, also discussed Turkey’s condemnation of Russia’s annexation of Ukrainian territory.

Turkey, a NATO member, has performed a diplomatic balancing act since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24. Ankara opposes Western sanctions against Russia and has close ties with both Moscow and Kyiv, its Black Sea neighbors. She has also criticized the Russian invasion and sent armed drones into Ukraine.

Sweden and Finland have applied to join the military alliance after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but NATO ally Turkey has expressed concerns about their candidacy.

The three countries reached a landmark deal on the sidelines of NATO’s Madrid summit in June, with Turkey lifting its veto and Sweden and Finland agreeing to a series of steps that should be taken to address Turkey’s concerns.

During their meeting, Sullivan and Kalin also discussed “their support for peace negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan, the importance of dialogue and diplomacy in resolving disagreements in the Eastern Mediterranean, and their condemnation of Russia’s attempted illegal annexation of Ukrainian territory.” statement said.

(Reporting by Katharine Jackson; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)