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Turkey holds delicate talks with Sweden and Finland ahead of a decision on their NATO membership application

Turkey holds delicate talks with Sweden and Finland ahead of a decision on their NATO membership application

Senior Turkish officials have met with government delegations from Sweden and Finland as discussions continue following Ankara's threat to veto the NATO membership application of the two Nordic countries. Most NATO countries have warmly welcomed the decision of Sweden and Finland since their membership in NATO will considerably strengthen the northern flank of the alliance, but Turkey accuses both countries of having an ambivalent position on Turkey's struggle with militant Kurdish groups. On Wednesday, Swedish and Finnish government delegations travelled to Ankara to meet with Turkish representatives in an effort to resolve the country’s doubts regarding their accession to NATO. In their first face-to-face meeting since the two Nordic countries applied for membership, Turkish representatives stressed their security concerns, and conditions regarding Sweden’s “cooperation” with Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Turkish presidential spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin said in a statement late on Wednesday that positive steps towards the lifting of an arms embargo from Finland and Sweden had been taken. In October of 2019, Sweden and Finland were among some  European states that imposed an arms embargo on Turkey following a military incursion into Syria.

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Commentary: The West needs more than a charm offensive if it wants to maintain its relevance in the GCC space

Commentary: The West needs more than a charm offensive if it wants to maintain its relevance in the GCC space

Throughout the oil boom in the last quarter of the 20th century and since, the GCC countries were seen in the United States, Britain, France and elsewhere in Europe through the prism of being major oil exporters and arms importers. Western countries and the Arab Gulf monarchies need each other. But for their friendship to last it needs to be rebuilt on a different basis than has been the case so far.
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Top US officials visit Arab Gulf states

Top US officials visit Arab Gulf states

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken are visiting Arab Gulf states where they will meet several leaders. The two US officials are travelling on a separate itinerary which also includes Europe, hoping to build some support after the aftermath of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. The trip will also serve to reassure allies of US support and the rejection of extremism. 
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European Defence Ministers meet to discuss Afghanistan and how to respond to future crisis

European Defence Ministers meet to discuss Afghanistan and how to respond to future crisis

It seems that the crisis in Afghanistan has focused minds in Brussels. On Thursday (2 September) EU defence ministers are meeting to discuss the crisis and how to learn lessons from it. Hovering at the top of the agenda is the EU's own capacity - or more precisely lack of capacity -  to act in these and similar situations. But the meeting is "informal" and no decisions are expected until later in the year.