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"Nato's door remains open," Biden tells Finland, Sweden as Turkey blocks talks

Finland's President Sauli Niinistö and Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson visited Washington to meet US President Joe Biden on Thursday.

Biden: Ruotsin ja Suomen Nato-hakemuksille vahva tuki, laajeneminen ei uhka kenellekään – Yle seuraa Niinistön Washingtonin-vierailua
Biden: Ruotsin ja Suomen Nato-hakemuksille vahva tuki, laajeneminen ei uhka kenellekään – Yle seuraa Niinistön Washingtonin-vierailua

US President Joe Biden has said the United States strongly supports Finland and Sweden joining Nato, describing both as "strong democracies."

Finnish President Sauli Niinistö and Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson met with Biden at the White House on Thursday to discuss recent hurdles regarding their countries' membership applications to the transatlantic military alliance.

The visit of the two leaders comes as the US authorities say they are working to resolve Turkey's decision to impede Finland and Sweden's accession talks.

Addressing Turkey's position, Biden said that "Nato's door remains open", adding "new members joining Nato is not a threat to any nation, it never has been."

President Niinistö said that by supporting Finland and Sweden, the United States could set a "crucially important example to others".

"On the 24th of February, I said that the masks have fallen and we only see the cold faces of war. Russia's war in Ukraine has changed Europe and our security environment," Niinistö said in the press briefing held after the leaders' meeting.

Sauli Niinistö's meeting with Biden on Thursday marks the Finnish President's second visit to Washington in the past three months. Image: Mandel Ngan / AFP

Finland and Sweden were due to start membership negotiations with the Nato board in Brussels on Thursday, but Finnish and Swedish delegates must wait until Turkey's stance on the applications is overturned.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has accused the two Nordic nations of "protecting terrorists," referring to pro-independence Kurdish militants present in the countries, and has since drawn up a list of demands to be met before considering Finland and Sweden's alliance applications.

Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu added that both countries must provide security guarantees, with the demands list also calling attention to a US ban on arms sales.

Turkey had previously expressed its desire to acquire some 100 F-35 fighter jets from the United States, however the White House blocked the sale in 2018, citing Turkey's acquisition of the S-400 missile defence system from Russia.

Commenting on Turkey's objections to Finland and Sweden's Nato applications, Niinistö said that "Finland has always had broad and good bilateral relations to Turkey. As Nato allies, we will commit to Turkey's security just as Turkey will commit to our security."

The President further added that Finland took terrorism seriously.

"We condemn terrorism in all its forms and we are actively engaged in combatting it. We are open to discuss all concerns," he said.