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US in support of Sweden and Finland joining Nato

The State Department's top diplomat for Europe and President Joe Biden have reiterated US support for Sweden and Finland joining Nato, ahead of a meeting between Alliance foreign ministers in Berlin on Saturday.

President Joe Biden at the South Court Auditorium on the White House complex in Washington, Tuesday, May 10, 2022.
President Joe Biden at the South Court Auditorium on the White House complex in Washington, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. Photo: AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta/TT

In a phone call on Friday morning with Sweden’s Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and Finnish President Sauli Niinistö, US President Joe Biden reiterated support for Nato’s open-door policy, the White House said. He had also stressed that Sweden and Finland had the right to decide their own future.

The State Department’s top diplomat for Europe, Karen Donfried said on Friday: “The United States would support Finland or Sweden joining NATO should they choose to do so.” A formal membership application by the two countries would be “further evidence of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s strategic miscalculation,” she said.

Finland and Sweden are “valued Nato partners” and “thriving democracies,” Donfried said. Referring to remarks by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the top diplomat said Turkey’s position must now be clarified. 

READ ALSO: Turkey comes out against Swedish and Finnish Nato membership

Erdogan has voiced opposition to Sweden and Finland joining Nato. Scandinavian countries, he said, were “guesthouses for terrorist organizations” such as the outlawed Kurdish Workers’ Party, or PKK.

But Sweden and Finland’s foreign ministers are hoping to meet their Turkish counterpart in Berlin on Saturday to discuss their countries’ potential Nato bids.

Swedish foreign minister Ann Linde said in a statement to AFP that she would have the opportunity to talk about “a potential Swedish Nato application” with Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu at a Nato meeting in Berlin.

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BREAKING

Swedish PM and opposition leader announce decision to join Nato

Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson has announced her government's decision to take Sweden into Nato, ending two centuries of military non-alignment.

Swedish PM and opposition leader announce decision to join Nato

In a joint press conference held with Ulf Kristersson, leader of the opposition Moderate Party, Andersson said joining the alliance would act as a deterrent against Russian aggression. 

“The government has decided to inform Nato that Sweden wants to become a member of the alliance,” Andersson told reporters a day after neighbouring Finland made a similar announcement.

“We are leaving one era and beginning another,” she said, adding that Sweden’s Nato ambassador would “shortly” inform Nato.

Ulf Kristersson, whose party has long supported membership of the alliance, said that he wanted to put party political differences aside to support the government in its decision.  

“There are many major issues where we think differently, but we are going to take a joint responsibility for the process of taking Sweden into Nato,” he said. 

Sweden and Finland have both expressed a desire to act in lockstep on NATO membership and submit their applications jointly.

“We expect it shouldn’t take more than a year” for the alliance’s 30 members to unanimously ratify Sweden’s membership application, Andersson said.

The announcement was expected after her Social Democratic party on Sunday backed membership, in a dramatic turnaround after having opposed the idea since the birth of the Western military alliance.

It came after a debate in parliament in which all parties apart from the Green Party and Left Party spoke in favour of Sweden joining the alliance.  

“It is now clear that there is a broad majority in Sweden’s parliament for Sweden joining Nato,” she said. 

After Sweden’s announcement, Denmark, Norway and Iceland published a joint statement in which they promised to Sweden “by all means necessary” if the country is attacked in the gap between application and admission to the alliance. 

“Should Finland or Sweden be victim of aggression on their territory before obtaining Nato membership, we will assist Finland and Sweden by all means necessary,” the three countries said. “We immediately initiate preparations in order to effectuate these security assurances.”

Sweden’s defence minister Peter Hultqvist is flying to Washington, where he will meet his counterpart Lloyd Austin.

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