STORY: BIDEN: “Finland and Sweden make NATO stronger…”
At a meeting at the White House with the leaders of Finland and Sweden, U.S. President Joe Biden offered his unequivocal support for their efforts to join NATO.
“They meet every NATO requirement, and then some.”
Sweden and Finland are seeking membership after decades of standing outside the Cold War era military alliance designed to deter threats from the Soviet Union, but Russia's invasion of Ukraine has heightened security concerns and changed the equation.
Biden, who has rallied the West to stand up to Russia, on Thursday stressed NATO’s importance as a defensive alliance.
“So let me be clear. New members joining NATO is not a threat to any nation.”
But Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has expressed strong opposition to the Nordic countries' inclusion.
ERDOGAN: “We have told allies that we will say ‘no’ to Finland and Sweden's NATO membership.”
Turkey, a NATO member, has accused both nations of harboring Kurdish militants it considers terrorists and supplying them with weapons.
Finland’s president on Thursday vowed his country would commit to the security of Turkey and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said conversations among Finland, Sweden and Turkey were underway.
STOLTENBERG: “I'm confident that we will come to a quick decision to welcome both Sweden and Finland to join the NATO family.”
All 30 NATO nations must approve any new members.