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Sweden will join NATO soon, says Joe Biden

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Washington | June 2, 2023 2:38:30 AM IST
US President Joe Biden has said he is certain that Sweden will join North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) "as soon as possible," in spite of Turkey and Hungary continuing to obstruct the Scandinavian nation's entry into the alliance, reported Al Jazeera.

On Thursday, Biden lauded NATO's unity in the face of Russia's invasion of Ukraine while speaking at the graduation ceremony for the United States Air Force Academy.

The US President said, "NATO is more energised and more united that it's been in decades. It's now even stronger with the accession of our newest ally, Finland - and soon Sweden - to the alliance, as soon as possible. It will happen. I promise you", reported Al Jazeera.

Biden's remarks came a few days after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken appealed to Turkey to give its nod to Sweden's bid to become a NATO member.

"From the perspective of the United States, the time is now to finalise Sweden's accession," Blinken told reporters in the northern Swedish city of Lulea on Tuesday.

He also voiced hope that the process would get finished before an ensuing NATO summit in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius in July.

The NATO countries must ratify new members. An attack on one NATO member state constitutes an attack on the entire alliance, according to Article 5 of the US-led bloc's collective defence pact, read a report published in Al Jazeera.

After Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Sweden and its neighbour Finland started applying for membership in NATO. Sweden's application is still pending, while Finland's official affiliation with the alliance began in April.

Sweden's accession is still pending in the absence of approval from Hungary and Turkey, but Ankara is thought to be the primary impediment. Turkey has charged Sweden of giving the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which it regards as a "terrorist" organisation, a safe haven.

According to Sweden, it is addressing Turkey's concerns in accordance with a trilateral agreement that the two nations and Finland inked last year.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu tweeted to his Swedish counterpart on Thursday as the foreign ministers of NATO member states met in Norway, posting, "Fulfil your commitments arising from Trilateral Memorandum & take concrete steps in the fight against terrorism. The rest will follow", reported Al Jazeera.

Biden said earlier this week that he brought up with the recently re-elected Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan the subject during a phone call.

Referring to a push by Ankara to finalise a USD 20 billion deal for US-manufactured F-16 fighter jets, Biden said on Monday, "I congratulated Erdogan. He still wants to work on something on the F-16s. I told him we wanted a deal with Sweden, so let's get that done."

Biden on Thursday refrained from mentioning Turkey when he voiced Sweden's NATO bid. However, he laid emphasis on the alliance continuing to stand united in response to the invasion of Ukraine, adding that Russian President Vladimir Putin thought NATO would "crack".

The US president reaffirmed US support for Ukraine's defence against the invasion. Since the war began last year, Washington has given Kyiv billions of dollars in humanitarian and military assistance.

Biden said, "The US has rallied the world to stand strong with Ukraine and defend the values that the American people hold so dear - freedom, sovereignty, democracy, simple dignity."

"The American people's support for Ukraine will not waver," Al Jazeera quoted him as saying in a report. (ANI)

 
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