US President Joe Biden to host Swedish PM for talks on NATO, Ukraine | World News - Hindustan Times

US President Joe Biden to host Swedish PM for talks on NATO, Ukraine

Jul 02, 2023 06:56 AM IST

Sweden asked to join NATO in May 2022, three months after Russia invaded Ukraine.

US President Joe Biden will host Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson next week to talk about transatlantic security cooperation and the war in Ukraine, the White House said Saturday.

US President Joe Biden(File)
US President Joe Biden(File)

The two leaders "will review our growing security cooperation and reaffirm their view that Sweden should join NATO as soon as possible," the White House said in a statement about the Wednesday meeting.

Sweden asked to join NATO in May 2022, three months after Russia invaded Ukraine, but its membership bid, which must be ratified by all 31 member states, has been blocked by Turkey and Hungary.

Western officials had hoped to formally welcome Sweden into the bloc by the time a NATO summit is held in Lithuania on July 11-12.

But earlier this week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan denounced Sweden for allowing a protest during which a man burned pages from the Koran, further clouding the Nordic nation's chances of quickly joining the military alliance.

"I am delighted that President Biden is inviting us to a meeting next week, before the NATO summit in Vilnius the following week," Kristersson said in a statement. "The focus of the visit will be on Sweden's NATO accession."

The White House said Biden and Kristersson will also "discuss our shared commitment to supporting Ukraine in the face of Russia's brutal war of aggression."

They will additionally talk about transatlantic coordination on China, climate change and emerging technologies.

Western officials had hoped Erdogan would soften his position on Sweden's bid to join NATO after he secured a hard-fought reelection in May.

Western allies and Stockholm have insisted that Sweden has met the terms of a deal agreed with Ankara last year.

That accord includes a commitment to crack down on opposition Kurdish movements, such as the Kurdistan Workers' Party PKK, blacklisted by Ankara which considers them "terrorist" groups.

Top diplomats from Turkey and Sweden will meet on Thursday, the day after Kristersson's White House visit, at NATO headquarters in Brussels for talks on Stockholm's bid to join the alliance.

Turkey dropped objections to Sweden's Nordic neighbor Finland joining earlier in the year and Helsinki became a NATO member in April.

Meanwhile, Hungary's parliament had been expected to vote on Sweden's bid by the end of its "extraordinary summer session" on July 7, but did not list it as an order of business for the session.

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