Leaders discuss Russia’s war against Ukraine, membership applications from Finland, Sweden, White House says.
US President Joe Biden sat down Thursday with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg as the transatlantic alliance prepares for a heavily-watched summit later this month.
Biden and Stoltenberg “discussed the implications of Russia’s war on Ukraine for Transatlantic security and the importance of strengthening NATO’s deterrence and defense, in addition to ensuring NATO is properly resourced to address a wide range of challenges, from cyber to climate change,” the White House said in a statement.
“They also welcomed the applications by Finland and Sweden for NATO membership, and President Biden conveyed his strong support for efforts by Secretary General Stoltenberg to facilitate a rapid accession process that addresses the security concerns of all Allies,” it added.
The meeting comes as NATO prepares for a key gathering of alliance leaders from June 29 – 30. In addition to adopting a path to guide the alliance through the next decades, the gathering is expected to address pending membership bids from Finland and Sweden.
The Nordic nations formally applied to join NATO on May 18, a decision spurred by Russia’s war on Ukraine, which began Feb. 24.
But Türkiye, a longstanding member of the alliance, has voiced objections to their membership bids, criticizing the countries for tolerating and even supporting terror groups such as the PKK/YPG and the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), the group responsible for a failed 2016 coup in Türkiye.
All membership applications must be met by unanimity in the 30-member alliance to be successful.
Stoltenberg told reporters Wednesday at the State Department that he will convene senior officials from the three nations in Brussels ahead of the summit to broach the differences. The NATO chief maintains he is confident “we will find a united way forward.”