UPDATE 1-U.S. confident Finland, Sweden can resolve Turkish concerns -deputy defense secretary

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By Idrees Ali

OSLO, May 24 (Reuters) - The United States is confident that Finland and Sweden will be able to resolve Turkish concerns about their seeking membership in NATO, Deputy U.S. Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks said on Tuesday.

"(We are) confident that Finland and Sweden will be able to resolve those (concerns) with the Turks directly," Hicks said while speaking alongside her Norwegian counterpart in Oslo.

Ankara surprised its NATO allies earlier this month by objecting to the two Nordic countries' accession to the alliance.

Turkey says Sweden and Finland harbour people linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group and followers of Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara accuses of orchestrating a 2016 coup attempt.

All 30 NATO states must give their approval before a new member can be admitted and thus benefit from the collective-security guarantee.

On Saturday, the leaders of Turkey, Sweden and Finland held talks to discuss Ankara's concerns. (Reporting by Idrees Ali; editing by Terje Solsvik and Jason Neely)

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