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Here’s what you need to know about the US-Sweden-Finland encounter

Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, US President Joe Biden and Finnish President Sauli Niinistö leave the White House Rose Garden after speaking May 19. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

On Thursday, the Swedish and Finnish leaders met with US President Joe Biden at the White House after submitting their NATO membership applications on Wednesday.

Here’s what you need to know about what the leaders said at the Rose Garden press conference after their meeting in the Cabinet Room.

Biden offers ‘strong support’ for Finland and Sweden’s NATO bids

“Finnish and Swedish troops have already served side by side with US and NATO forces in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq. And Finland and Sweden are already working in coordination with the US and our other allies and partners to support the brave people of Ukraine,” Biden said, adding that the countries already meet all NATO requirements, “and more.”

The Biden administration will submit reports to the US Congress on this NATO membership for the two countries

This is “so that the Senate can act effectively and expeditiously to advise and consent to the treaty,” Biden announced Thursday. In the United States, at least two-thirds of the Senate must vote to approve new member states of the defensive alliance. Likewise, the legislatures of the current 30 members must approve new NATO candidates.

Leaders of Finland and Sweden expressed hope for early ratification

“Russia’s war in Ukraine has changed Europe and our security environment. Finland is taking the step of joining NATO in order to not only strengthen its own security, but also to strengthen transatlantic security in broad sense,” Finnish President Sauli Niinistö said.

Finland shares an 800 mile long border with Russia.

The Swedish government “has come to the conclusion that the security of the Swedish people will be better protected within NATO, and this is backed by very broad support in the Swedish parliament,” Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said.

Turkey was also mentioned by all leaders

As Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan repeated on Thursday, his country “will say no to the entry of Sweden and Finland into NATO”.

By way of explanation, he cited national security concerns. Earlier this week, Erdogan accused the two countries of harboring Kurdish “terrorist organisations”.

He was mainly referring to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) which wants an independent state in Turkey. The group has been in an armed struggle with Ankara for decades and has been designated a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

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