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Biden signs a measure giving US approval to Sweden and Finland’s bid to join NATO.

WASHINGTON — President Biden signed a measure Tuesday that would expand NATO to include Sweden and Finland in a bid to strengthen the Western alliance, nearly six months after Russia’s President Vladimir V. Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine.

“It is now critical to deter threats before they harm our people, our allies and our interests,” said Mr Biden from the White House. “It’s how we deal with instability and aggression, with allies on our side strengthening the ability to respond effectively.”

“Sweden and Finland have strong democratic institutions, strong militaries and strong and transparent economies,” the president added. “They will meet all NATO requirements – we are confident in that – and it will make our alliance stronger.”

All 30 current NATO members must approve the addition of the two countries, and more than 20 have already done that. NATO expansion gained momentum after Turkey vetoed the addition of Sweden and Finland following a series of pledges by the two countries to act against terrorism.

The turnaround by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey was a major achievement in the Biden administration’s quiet diplomatic drive to unite the West around countering the Russian attack on Ukraine.

NATO expansion has received overwhelming support from Democrats and Republicans in a deeply divided Washington. Last week, the Senate voted 95 to 1 to approve the move, with only Missouri Republican Senator Josh Hawley opposing the move.

Only the Senate has the power to approve treaties, but last month the House passed a non-binding resolution supporting Finland and Sweden’s accession to NATO in a skewed vote of 394 to 18.

Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson of Sweden and President Sauli Niinisto of Finland visited the White House in May, and Mr Biden said Tuesday he spoke to them on the phone before the signing ceremony.

“Today we see all too clearly how NATO remains a vital alliance,” said Mr Biden, adding: “If Finland and Sweden bring the number of allies to 32, we will be stronger than ever.”

Democrats have argued that adding Finland and Sweden to NATO would reduce the burden on the United States and other allies assisting Ukraine. The endorsement in Washington was another foreign policy hub of President Donald J. Trump, who openly criticized the alliance.

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