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Sweden, US and Finland agree to work more closely together on defence

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Sweden, US and Finland agree to work more closely together on defence
From left, Peter Hultqvist, Jussi Niinistö and James Mattis. Photo: AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta
07:35 CEST+02:00
Sweden, Finland and the United States have agreed to deepen their defence cooperation.

Defence ministers of the three countries – Peter Hultqvist of Sweden, James Mattis of the US and Jussi Niinistö of Finland – met on Tuesday to sign a so-called statement of intent.

"Sweden, Finland and the United States of America intend to complement and reinforce the defence relationships by formalizing and enhancing the defence relationship concerning issues such as exercise actitivies and increased interoperability," read a Swedish government statement.

More than 1,400 soldiers from the US came to Sweden last year to join some 20,000 military personnel taking part in the Aurora 17 defence drill, the biggest Swedish military exercise in over 20 years. Troops from Finland, Denmark, Norway, Lithuania and Estonia also participated.

Sweden is not a member of Nato, but has strengthened ties with the alliance in recent years in the face of Russian warnings that an expanding Nato would be seen as a "threat". The Nordic country has a Host Nation Support Agreement (HSNA) with Nato which means helicopters, aircraft and ships can be transported by members across Swedish territory upon Sweden's invitation.

Hultqvist said he hoped the new deal would increase stability in Scandinavia and the Baltics.

But the Swedish defence minister declined to discuss Russia when asked by news agency TT.

"We haven't singled out any particular country in that way. We're only noting that over time the security political situation in our part of Europe has deteriorated," he said.

"This prompts us to increase our own military capabilities and to deepen our cooperation with other countries. That is one part of the strategy."

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