(Adds quotes from Swedish PM, detail)
ISTANBUL, May 21 (Reuters) – Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, who has opposed Sweden and Finland joining NATO, held telephone talks with the leaders of the two countries on Saturday and discussed his concerns about terrorist organizations.
Turkey says Sweden and Finland are home to people linked to the militant group Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and supporters of Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara accuses of orchestrating a 2016 coup attempt.
Erdogan told Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson that Ankara expected concrete measures to address its concerns, according to the Turkish presidency. He also said that an arms export embargo imposed on Turkey after its invasion of Syria in 2019 should be lifted, it added.
Andersson said that she appreciated the call and that Sweden hopes to be able to strengthen bilateral relations with Turkey.
“I emphasized that Sweden welcomes the possibility of cooperation in the fight against international terrorism and emphasized that Sweden clearly supports the fight against terrorism and the terrorist listing of the PKK,” she added in a statement.
In another conversation, Erdogan told Finnish President Sauli Niinisto that failing to deal with terrorist organizations that pose a threat to an NATO ally would not suit the alliance spirit, Ankara said.
Niinisto said he had “open and direct” talks with Erdogan and agreed to continue a close dialogue.
Turkey surprised its NATO allies last week by protesting the two countries’ accession to the military alliance, but Western leaders have expressed confidence that Ankara’s objections will not be a barrier to the membership process.
All 30 NATO states must give their approval before a new member can be adopted and thus benefit from the collective security guarantee. (Reportage by Can Sezer and Ezgi Erkoyun in Istanbul, Essi Lehto in Helsinki and Supantha Mukherjee in Stockholm; Further reporting by Terje Solsvik; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Pravin Char)