By Dave DeCamp
The US and Sweden have signed a Defense Cooperation Agreement (DCA) that will grant the US military access to bases across the Nordic country as Stockholm has abandoned its centuries-old policy of neutrality.
The Pentagon said the deal will allow “US forces to operate in Sweden, including the legal status of US military personnel, access to deployment areas (and) prepositioning of military materiel.”
Swedish Defense Minister Pal Jonson inked the pact with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on Tuesday and said it “will create better conditions for Sweden to be able to receive support from the United States in the event of a war or crisis.”
The deal comes as Sweden is still waiting for Turkey and Hungary to approve its NATO bid. The US State Department said the DCA with Sweden will “apply seamlessly before and after Sweden’s accession to the NATO Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA).”
Sweden and Finland applied to join NATO together last year, but Turkey delayed the process over allegations that the Nordic countries supported the PKK, a Kurdish militant group Ankara, the EU, and the US consider a terrorist organization. Turkey’s main gripes were with Sweden, and the Turkish parliament approved Helsinki’s bid earlier this year while delaying Stockholm’s membership.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday that he expects the US to move forward on a major F-16 sale before his parliament ratifies Sweden’s membership. The deal has support from the Biden administration, but there’s been some opposition in Congress.
“As the president, I’ve done my part, but I have an expectation as well. The US should pass this [F-16 sales to Turkey] from its Congress, so that we can take these steps simultaneously,” Erdogan said.
Hungary has cited Swedish criticism of the Hungarian government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban for its delay in approving Stockholm’s NATO bid but is expected to ratify it once Turkey does.
Image: Anthony Freda Art
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