U.S. confident Finland, Sweden can resolve Turkish concerns, deputy defense secretary says

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OSLO, May 24 (Reuters) - The United States is confident that Finland and Sweden will be able to resolve Turkish concerns about their seeking membership in NATO, Deputy U.S. Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks said on Tuesday.

"(We are) confident that Finland and Sweden will be able to resolve those (concerns) with the Turks directly," Hicks said while speaking alongside her Norwegian counterpart in Oslo.

Ankara surprised its NATO allies earlier this month by objecting to the two Nordic countries' accession to the alliance.

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Turkey says Sweden and Finland harbour people linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group and followers of Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara accuses of orchestrating a 2016 coup attempt. read more

All 30 NATO states must give their approval before a new member can be admitted and thus benefit from the collective-security guarantee.

On Saturday, the leaders of Turkey, Sweden and Finland held talks to discuss Ankara's concerns. read more

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Reporting by Idrees Ali; editing by Terje Solsvik and Jason Neely

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Thomson Reuters

National security correspondent focusing on the Pentagon in Washington D.C. Reports on U.S. military activity and operations throughout the world and the impact that they have. Has reported from over two dozen countries to include Iraq, Afghanistan, and much of the Middle East, Asia and Europe. From Karachi, Pakistan.