US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged Ankara to support Sweden in its bid to join NATO during a meeting on Wednesday with Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan, a State Department spokesman said.

Türkiye objected to Sweden’s request to join the alliance, citing security concerns, but NATO members expressed their hopes that it would gain membership before the alliance’s mid-July summit in Vilnius, Lithuania’s capital.

Spokesman Matthew Miller said that Blinken, in a meeting with Fidan on the sidelines of the “Ukraine Recovery” conference in London, stressed the importance of uniting the alliance at a critical time.

“Blinken also urged… Türkiye to support Sweden in joining NATO now,” Miller added.

The spokesman went on to say that Blinken welcomed Ankara’s support for Kiev and its work with regard to the grain deal, which allows the shipment of Ukrainian exports through the Black Sea ports.

The US secretary of State had urged Ankara last month to immediately complete the approval of Sweden’s request to join the alliance.

Sweden and Finland last year reversed their decades-old policy of military non-alignment and applied to join NATO in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Finland joined the alliance in April, but Türkiye continues to block Sweden from membership.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that Sweden shouldn’t expect Ankara to give the green light to its request to join the alliance at the summit unless it stops the anti-Swedish protests in Stockholm.

Türkiye accuses Sweden of harboring members of armed groups it considers terrorist.

Stockholm recently introduced a new law that makes it more difficult to fund or support terrorist groups.

Blinken and Fidan attended the Ukraine conference in London, at which Britain, the United States and the European Union pledged billions of dollars in additional aid for Ukraine’s reconstruction.

Fidan said he came to London to show his country’s support for Kiev.

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