Erdogan threatens to freeze Finland, Sweden NATO bids before meeting for talks with Russia and Iran

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin is visiting Iran on a rare trip outside Russia since the war in Ukraine. He will hold talks with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi. Syria is on the official agenda – but Putin and Erdogan are also expected to discuss a UN-backed proposal to resume exports of Ukrainian grain. Mmillions of tons of grain are stuck in Ukrainian ports – threatening a global food crisis. At the same time, President Erdogan has again threatened to block Sweden and Finland’s bids to join NATO. He wants to make sure they stick to the assurances they gave last month that they’d clamp down on Kurdish groups Turkey views as terrorists. For some Kurds living in Sweden, the future now seems uncertain. NATO hopes Swedish membership gets quick approval from allies’ parliaments. But analyst Aras Lindh says he suspects Erdogan may well drag this dispute out, as he runs for re-election next June.