Biden to meet with leaders of Finland, Sweden on plans to join NATO
President Biden plans to meet with the leaders of Finland and Sweden on Thursday about their plans to join NATO, the White House announced Tuesday.
“The leaders will discuss Finland’s and Sweden’s NATO applications and European security, as well as strengthening our close partnerships across a range of global issues and support for Ukraine,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement.
Biden’s meeting with Finnish President Sauli Niinistö and Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson will take place before the president departs for a high-stakes trip to Asia later this week.
Both countries have announced in recent days that they are seeking NATO membership, a major development that comes amid Russia’s bloody war in Ukraine.
The White House has welcomed their applications. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with officials in Berlin over the weekend to discuss the plans, and Biden spoke to both leaders last week about joining NATO.
The administration is trying to assuage concerns from Turkey, another NATO member that has objected to Sweden and Finland seeking membership in the alliance.
“I heard, almost across the board, very strong support for Finland and Sweden joining the alliance if that’s what they choose to do,” Blinken said at a press conference over the weekend. “And I’m very confident that we will reach consensus on that.”
Jean-Pierre echoed those comments in an exchange with reporters aboard Air Force One later Tuesday, but wouldn’t say if the administration is prepared to offer any concessions to Turkey to lessen Ankara’s concerns.
“We are confident that they will reach a consensus,” she said.
Biden already met with Niinistö earlier this year in March at the White House, and the two discussed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, among other topics. Thursday’s meeting will be Biden’s first White House meeting with Andersson, who was elected in November.
Updated at 9:47 a.m.