Biden to host leaders of Sweden and Finland as part of NATO bids
President Joe Biden will host Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson of Sweden and President Sauli Niinistö of Finland at the White House for a meeting on Thursday as part of their drive to join NATO following the invasion of Ukraine by Russia.
The White House said it would discuss the two countries’ bids to join the mutual defense alliance, as well as broader European security. Demands by long-neutral countries to join NATO have been widely welcomed within the alliance as a rebuke to Russia after its invasion of Ukraine, although Turkey has expressed reservations.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavusoglu told reporters in Berlin that Finland and Sweden had also imposed restrictions on defense sales to Turkey which were “unacceptable”. But NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said he understood Turkey wanted its concerns about Finland and Sweden to be addressed, but had no intention of blocking their membership. Nonetheless, Turkey’s grievances have raised fears in Washington and Brussels that other NATO members are also using the admissions process as a way to extract concessions from their allies, potentially complicating and delay joining.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who spoke with Çavusoglu, will see him again on the sidelines of a special meeting of the UN Security Council on Wednesday in New York. He said he was optimistic that all NATO members would support the candidacies of Finland and Sweden.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Tuesday that the administration was “very confident” that an agreement would be reached for the two countries to join the alliance.
Thursday’s meeting at the White House between Biden and the two leaders is expected to take place before Biden leaves Washington for a four-day trip to South Korea and Japan.
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