Italy backs bid by Finland and Sweden to join NATO

BEIJING – Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi told journalists that his country supports Finland and Sweden's NATO membership bids.

Draghi and Finland's visiting Prime Minister Sanna Marin met with the press on Wednesday at Palazzo Chigi, the Italian government's seat, as per reports. He stated that Italy was eager to expedite the accession processes of the two applicant countries. The bid for participation in the military alliancewas prompted by security concerns following the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, he said.

Finland and Sweden, both EU members, submitted formal NATO membership applications on Wednesday. New member applications must be approved by all 30 current NATO member nations.  Turkey, on the other hand, has stated that it opposes the two Nordic nations joining the Europeon Union.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated on Wednesday that Sweden's NATO membership will be revoked unless the country extradites "terrorists" as requested by Turkey.  Erdogan also instructed the Swedish and Finnish delegations not to bother going to Ankara to persuade the Turkish government to endorse their NATO membership requests.

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