File photo: Finnish Foreign Affairs Minister Pekka Haavisto speaks to members of the media as he attends an EU Foreign Ministers' meeting in Brussels, Belgium, 23 January 2023; Credit: Reuters/Johanna Geron

HELSINKI (Reuters) - On Tuesday 24 January 2023, Finland's Foreign Minister said a timeout of a few weeks is needed in the talks between Finland, Sweden and Turkey on the two Nordic nations' plans to join the NATO military alliance.

Turkey's President said on Monday 23 January 2023 that Sweden should not expect his country's support for NATO membership after a protest near the Turkish embassy in Stockholm at the weekend including the burning of a copy of the Koran.

"A timeout is needed before we return to the three-way talks and see where we are when the dust has settled after the current situation, so no conclusions should be drawn yet," Finland's Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto told Reuters in a telephone interview. "I think there will be a break for a couple of weeks," he added.

Sweden and Finland applied last year to join North Atlantic Treaty Organization after Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

They now need the backing of all current NATO states to progress with their application.

But alliance member Turkey has said Sweden in particular must take a clearer stance against what Ankara sees as terrorists, mainly Kurdish militants and a group it blames for a 2016 coup attempt in Turkey.

Finland and Sweden have repeatedly said they plan to join the alliance simultaneously, and this has not changed, Pekka Haavisto said.

"I do not see the need for a discussion about that," he said when asked whether Finland could potentially go ahead without Sweden.