The US and Sweden on Monday opened talks on a military cooperation agreement that will pave the way for a US troop presence in the country as Stockholm is preparing to become a NATO member.
Swedish Defense Minister Pal Jonson told AFP that the details of the agreement still need to be worked out but that it will make “it easier for American troops to operate in Sweden.”
The US already holds military exercises with Sweden, and US troops occasionally operate inside the country, but the agreement could establish a more regular presence.
“It could entail storage of military supplies, investments in infrastructure to enable support, and the legal status of American troops in Sweden,” Jonson said. “The negotiations are started because Sweden is on its way of becoming an ally of the United States, through the NATO membership.”
Sweden’s NATO membership is not guaranteed as Turkey and Hungary have yet to approve its bid. Hungary’s parliament is expected to vote on the issue soon, but Turkey is still making demands of Stockholm that Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said his country could not fulfill.
“Turkey confirms that we have done what we said we would do. But they also say that they want things that we can’t and won’t give them. So the decision is now with Turkey,” Kristersson said.
Despite Turkey’s objection, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg insisted Tuesday that Sweden and Finland will be joining the alliance. “I’m confident that the accession process will be finalized and all NATO allies will ratify the accession protocols in the parliaments, and that also goes for Turkey,” get said.
If Turkey does approve Sweden’s membership, it would mark the first military alliance Sweden has joined in over 200 years and will break its long-standing policy of neutrality, which kept the country out of two world wars.