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Biden signs ratification documents approving Finland and Sweden’s NATO membership

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US President Joe Biden, Swedens Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and Finlands President Sauli Niinistö arrive to speak in the Rose Garden following a meeting at the White House in Washington, DC, on May 19, 2022.

Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images

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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden signed ratification documents on Tuesday bringing Finland and Sweden one step closer to joining the NATO alliance.

“[Russian President Vladimir] Putin thought he could break us apart,” Biden said. “Our alliance is closer than ever, it is more united than ever and after Finland and Sweden join we will be stronger than ever,” he added.

Last week, the Senate voted 95 to 1 to ratify Finland and Sweden’s entrance into the world’s most powerful military alliance.

In May, both nations began the formal process of applying to NATO amid the backdrop of Russia’s war in Ukraine. Moscow, long wary of NATO expansion, has opposed the two nations’ plans to join the alliance.

Both Finland and Sweden already meet many of the requirements to be NATO members. Some of the requirements include having a functioning democratic political system, a willingness to provide economic transparency and the ability to make military contributions to NATO missions.

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“They will meet every NATO requirement, we are confident of that,” Biden said.

Biden welcomed leaders from both countries to the White House in May and pledged to work with the Senate — which had to sign off on U.S. approval of NATO bids — and the other 29 members of the alliance to swiftly bring Sweden and Finland into the group.

At the time Biden, flanked by Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, said the two countries would “make NATO stronger.” He called their moves to join the pact a “victory for democracy.”

US President Joe Biden, flanked by Swedens Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and Finlands President Sauli Niinistö, speaks in the Rose Garden following a meeting at the White House in Washington, DC, on May 19, 2022.

Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images

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After Biden’s signature, the governments of the Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain and Turkey will still need to sign the instruments of ratification by the end of September.

“I urge the remaining allies to complete the ratification process as quickly as possible,” Biden said.

In June, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the leaders of the alliance had reached a deal to admit Finland and Sweden after resolving the concerns of holdout Turkey.

Previously, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he would not approve the applications, citing their support for Kurdish organizations that Turkey considers security threats.



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Congress appoints Brijlal Khabri as UP unit chief

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“Continuity with change,” Salman Khurshid joins issue with Shashi Tharoor

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Senior Congress leader Salman Khurshid on Saturday joined issue with Shashi Tharoor, who has said his electoral competitor in the AICC presidential poll, M Mallikarjun Kharge was a “candidate of continuity” and of “status quo”, while those wanting change in party should vote for him. Khurshid, who is among the leaders who have backed Kharge, also indicated that if consensus emerges on the poll, it will be good; if not and election does take place as scheduled on October 17, there will be no regrets.

“Shashi says this (Kharge) has elements of continuity, his (Tharoor’s) has elements of change. But continuity and change are subjective terms, relative terms”, the former Union Minister told PTI.

“I think that the very fact that we are having this election is reemphasis of continuity with change because it’s not the first time that we are having elections. And that elections in the past have had certain features; this has its own features. So, for us this is all welcome”, he said.

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“We just want to get to that destination that the party comes out stronger and more determined that the efforts being put in by Rahul Gandhi…those efforts will then spread across full campaign against the things we oppose”, Khurshid added.

He said he has no opinion at all when asked if he favours consensus as the last day for withdrawal of nomination is not over.

“I have no opinion. Let’s go the way we are going. If anything (consensus) happens, emerges, well and good; if it does not, no regrets”, Khurshid said.

Tharoor on Friday called Kharge, 80, a “candidate of continuity”, an apparent reference to the impression in some quarters that the Karnataka leader is the choice of the Gandhis.

“I am not surprised that the establishment is rallying behind the status quo. If you want the status quo, I think you should vote for Mr. Kharge. If you want change and progress with an eye to the rest of the 21st century, then I hope I will stand for that change,” the Thiruvananthapuram MP had said.

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Mallikarjun Kharge resigns as Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha; Digvijaya, Chidambaram in race to replace him

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Senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge has resigned as the Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, sources said on Saturday, a day after he filed his nomination papers for the AICC president’s election. Kharge’s resignation, which the 80-year-old leader sent to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, is in line with the party’s declared ‘One person, One post’ principle that was announced at the Udaipur ‘Chintan Shivir’ in May.

The resignation letter was sent by Kharge last night, the sources said.

Senior leaders P Chidambaram and Digvijaya Singh are learnt to be the front-runners to take on the mantle of Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha.

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The stage was set on Friday for a contest between Kharge and Shashi Tharoor for the Congress president’s post. Kharge, a Dalit leader from Karnataka has emerged as the clear favourite.

The third candidate in the fray, K N Tripathi, a former Jharkhand minister, is considered a lightweight for the contest.

Kharge, Tharoor and Tripathi filed nominations on the last day of the process which saw the AICC headquarters come back to life after a long time, with workers swarming the complex.

Kharge, flanked by top Congress leaders, has filed 14 sets of nomination papers with the proposers including Ashok Gehlot, Digvijaya Singh, A K Antony, Ambika Soni, Mukul Wasnik and members from the G-23 ginger group comprising Anand Sharma, Bhupinder Hooda, Prithviraj Chavan and Manish Tewari.



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