Biden offers ‘strong support’ to Finland and Sweden in Nato bid

Finnish leader says country ready to commit to Turkey’s security following US meeting

US president Joe Biden met the leaders of Sweden and Finland on Thursday to advance their applications to join the Nato military alliance, as Turkey repeated its opposition to the move.

Mr Biden, who has lauded co-operation between Europe and the US in standing up to Moscow during a Russian invasion of Ukraine, stood with Swedish prime minister Magdalena Andersson and Finnish president Sauli Niinistö in a sunny White House Rose Garden bedecked with flags.

He cheered the “momentous” day, giving his strong support for the two “great democracies” to “join the strongest most powerful defensive alliance in the history of the world”.

“They meet every Nato requirement and then some,” Mr Biden said, adding he is submitting paperwork today to the US Congress for speedy approval once Nato approves their accession.

Turkey has expressed strong opposition to including Finland and Sweden in the alliance, asking Sweden to halt support for Kurdish militants it considers to be part of a terrorist group and both to lift their bans on some sales of arms to Turkey.

Finland and Sweden officially applied to join the world’s biggest security organisation on Wednesday.

All 30 Nato members need to approve any new entrant. A first meeting of Nato ambassadors to discuss their applications failed to reach a consensus on whether to move forward.

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a video posted on his Twitter account on Thursday that Turkey had told allies that it will reject Sweden and Finland's membership.

US national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters on Wednesday that US officials were confident Turkey's concerns can be addressed, and Mr Biden told reporters "I think we're going to be okay," on the issue.

Mr Niinistö said Finland was open to discussing Turkey’s concerns, adding that the country was ready to commit to Ankara’s security.

Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg said he was "confident that we will come to a quick decision to welcome both Sweden and Finland to join the Nato family" despite Turkey's opposition.

Mr Stoltenberg would not be drawn further on the substance of Turkey’s objections, but he said Nato remains in close contact with Sweden, Finland and Turkey.

“We are addressing the concerns that Turkey has expressed. Because when an important ally [like] Turkey raises security concerns, raises issues, then of course the only way to deal with that is to sit down and find common ground,” he told reporters.

The Nato chief was in Copenhagen and met Danish prime minister Mette Frederiksen and Danish defence minister Morten Bodskov. – Reuters