Biden says ‘I absolutely guarantee’ U.S. commitment to NATO

HELSINKI: President Joe Biden on Thursday gave his assurance that the United States would stay committed to NATO despite “extreme elements” of the Republican party, during a visit to Finland to welcome it as the alliance’s latest member.

“I absolutely guarantee it,” Biden said at a news conference when asked about the U.S. commitment to NATO given the political instability in the United States. Biden’s predecessor, Republican former President Donald Trump, threatened to take the United States out of the alliance.

“No one can guarantee the future, but this is the best bet anyone could make,” Biden said. Biden, a Democrat, is running again for president in 2024 and is likely to face Trump as an opponent.

Biden was in Helsinki to participate in a summit with the leaders of Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland and Norway. He came directly from this week’s NATO summit held in Vilnius, Lithuania, where he said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had only made the alliance stronger.

“A stronger NATO makes the entire world stronger,” Biden said.

Finland’s decision to join NATO broke with seven decades of military non-alignment and roughly doubled the length of the border NATO shares with Russia.

The country repelled an attempted Soviet invasion during World War Two but lost territory. It maintained accommodating relations with Russia until President Vladimir Putin’s Ukraine invasion in February 2022.

Ahead of a bilateral meeting with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto, Biden hailed Finland as an “incredible asset” to the NATO military alliance.

“I don’t think NATO has ever been stronger,” he told reporters, adding later that this week’s summit was a reminder of member nations’ common values and challenges.

“The vision for the world that we all share … is one that’s more free, more secure,” he said.

Niinisto said Finland’s NATO membership heralded “a new era in our security”, and applauded Biden for creating unity at the Vilnius summit, which focused on supporting Ukraine.

“You will be one of those who wrote it to history,” he said to Biden about Finland joining the alliance.

Biden and the Nordic leaders said in a statement following the talks that they would continue to support Ukraine for as long as necessary.


Biden also welcomed Sweden’s prospective entry to NATO. Sweden had applied to join NATO alongside Finland, but its bid was held up by Turkey, which says Sweden is doing too little against people Ankara sees as terrorists. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan dropped objections to its application this week.

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson thanked Biden for his support in the country’s push to join NATO and said there was great potential for closer U.S.-Nordic cooperation and a stronger link in facing challenges, including on issues involving China.

“We’re seeing a total change to the European security structure as a result of Russia’s move and the Nordic countries writ large have moved closer to the West in response to Russia’s aggressive and destabilising actions,” a White House official said earlier.

Biden’s visit comes almost exactly five years after Trump struck a conciliatory tone with Putin at talks in Helsinki.

Biden said he looked forward to discussing climate change, artificial intelligence and support for Ukraine with the Finnish leader. Reuters

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