US President Joe Biden has announced his upcoming diplomatic trip to Europe, which will include visits to the United Kingdom, the NATO summit in Lithuania, and meetings in Finland, according to a statement released by the White House on Sunday.
Biden’s journey is scheduled to commence on July 9 in Britain, where he will engage in discussions with King Charles III and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. Following his visit to the UK, he will proceed to the NATO summit in Vilnius, taking place on July 11-12. Subsequently, the President will make a one-day stop in Helsinki to attend the US-Nordic Leaders Summit.
This announcement comes in the midst of preparations by the White House to welcome Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson to Washington next week. The purpose of their meeting is to address Stockholm’s aspirations of joining NATO. Additionally, the US recently expressed that the alliance is approaching a consensus on how to respond to Ukraine’s push for membership.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who is currently combating a Russian invasion, stated on Saturday his desire for Ukraine to receive an invitation to join NATO after the conflict. He emphasized the significance of a clear signal at the Vilnius summit, stating that it would be a crucial and practical step for his country.
Sweden applied for NATO membership in May 2022, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. However, its bid, which requires ratification by all 31 member states, has been obstructed by Turkey and Hungary. On Thursday, after Prime Minister Kristersson’s visit to the White House, high-ranking diplomats from Turkey and Sweden will convene at NATO headquarters in Brussels to discuss Stockholm’s accession to the alliance.
While Turkey dropped its objections to Finland’s NATO membership earlier this year, Swedish chances have been complicated by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s criticism of Stockholm for permitting a protest where pages of the Koran were burned. Despite this, Western allies and Sweden maintain that the country has fulfilled the terms of an agreement reached with Ankara last year.
During his visit to Britain, President Biden aims to reinforce the close relationship between the two nations, the White House stated. Further details regarding the trip will be disclosed in the near future.