The United States on Wednesday gave its full support for Sweden and Finland’s bids to join NATO, promising to stand by them if threatened by Russia and pressing Turkey to not block their membership.

Hours after the two Nordic countries formally submitted their applications to enter the Atlantic alliance, President Joe Biden welcomed the move and said he would work with other NATO members and with the US Congress to ensure the process moved quickly.

“I warmly welcome and strongly support the historic applications,” Biden said, calling the two countries “longtime, stalwart partners.”

“While their applications for NATO membership are being considered, the United States will work with Finland and Sweden to remain vigilant against any threats to our shared security, and to deter and confront aggression or the threat of aggression,” he said in a statement.

Biden made the comments a day before welcoming Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson to the White House for meetings that will likely underscore the geopolitical shift of their decision to join NATO in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

US officials pledged to work with them to overcome key issues on their way to membership, including the need for some security guarantees before they are accepted into the alliance and Turkey’s opposition to their joining.

Turkey, which like all NATO members has the right to veto a nation’s candidacy, has raised objections, and ambassadors meeting in Brussels failed Wednesday to reach consensus on starting formal membership negotiations.

Turkey has accused the two countries, especially Sweden, of giving safe haven to members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is designated as a terror group by Ankara and its Western allies.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in New York Wednesday as the NATO question



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