Illustration shows Finnish and NATO flags
Finnish and NATO flags are seen printed on paper this illustration taken April 13, 2022. Reuters

Finland's foreign minister said on Tuesday he hoped that Turkey's foreign minister's trip to the United States this week would bring positive impetus to his country and Sweden's bid to join NATO.

The two Nordic states applied last year to join NATO following Russia's invasion of Ukraine but their bids must be approved by all 30 NATO member states. Turkey and Hungary have yet to endorse the applications.

On Monday, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said the two countries had to deport or extradite up to 130 "terrorists" to Turkey before parliament would approve their bids to join NATO.

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

"At expert level the discussions are going well .. and the cooperation goes well but we still see a lot of heated debate on this issue," Finland's foreign minister Pekka Haavisto told Reuters on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

The U.S., a key broker in the NATO talks, has told Congress it is preparing the potential $20 billion sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters. Some have speculated that should the deal go ahead Ankara would soften its resistance to the Nordic bids.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu is set to visit Washington on Wednesday.

"The U.S. cannot solve all the problems but it would be a good sign if Turkey and the U.S. can agree on this military package they are planning," Haavisto said. "If there is a green light on that package, hopefully it helps the Swedish and Finnish membership of NATO."

When asked whether Helsinki would seek NATO troops in Finland should there not be approval by Turkey soon, Haavisto said Finland had received very strong assurances from NATO.

"We are confident that NATO countries are there for our own security," he said, but he added that Finland had several hundred thousand troops in reserve.

"Our first line of defence is our own military force."