Looming heavily over the Tuesday through Thursday NATO summit in Madrid will be Turkey's vehement rejection of Finland and Sweden's membership bids, but it now appears President Joe Biden will use the opportunity of his trip to Europe, where's he's currently attending the G7 in Germany, to intervene with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan personally.
"US President Joe Biden will meet Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan at this week's NATO summit in Madrid where the alliance will discuss the fallout of Russia's invasion of Ukraine," the White House announced in a statement on Tuesday. The statement underscored the summit will take "historic decisions to strengthen the alliance's collective defense and security."
This after the Turkish side said that the two leaders held a Tuesday morning phone call ahead of the planned meeting on the sidelines of the Madrid-hosted summit.
Going into the week's annual NATO event, where the Ukraine war will be top of the agenda, US officials said they don't expected Turkey's concerns over Sweden and Finland's membership bids to be allayed anytime soon. But the White House has stated that at this point it hopes to "boost" the Scandinavian countries' candidacies.
On Monday national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters that the administration will seek to "create as much positive momentum" as possible among allies.
"I’m not sitting here today suggesting that all issues will be resolved by Madrid, but we’re going to try and resolve as many of them as possible so that Madrid gives a boost to their candidacies, even if there remains some concerns on the part of Turkey that need to be worked out," Sullivan said while briefing reporters at the G7 summit in Germany.
One European diplomatic official told CNN that there's hope of "last moment" Turkish concessions in previewing the anticipated Biden-Erdogan meeting: "My best projection based on what I've seen is that they will run this to the wire at Madrid. They also always prefer if they're going to make concessions to do it at the leader level, they believe that enhances that status," the unnamed official said. "It is Turkey's standard operating procedure not to give concessions till the last possible moment. And that last possible moment is usually defined as a bilateral with the US president, followed by a leaders meeting."