President Biden and the prime minister of Sweden met at the White House on Wednesday, during a week of diplomacy by the two leaders to persuade opponents to allow the Nordic nation to join NATO.
In a meeting in the Oval Office, President Biden told Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson of Sweden that the country was a “valued friend and partner” and that he is “anxiously looking forward to your membership” in NATO. But “any decision on NATO membership is between the 31 allies,” Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, told reporters in a briefing.
Mr. Biden and Mr. Kristersson share the conviction that Sweden should join NATO quickly, as well as their commitment to supporting Ukraine. Sweden applied to join NATO in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Finland joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization this year for the same reason, after overcoming objections from Turkey, but Turkey and Hungary have delayed Sweden’s bid to join the alliance. The White House meeting came a week before a NATO summit in Lithuania, which Mr. Biden plans to attend. He is scheduled to visit Britain and Finland on the same trip.
The American and Swedish leaders will pursue their efforts for Sweden on Thursday in Brussels, where the NATO secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, has scheduled a meeting with senior officials from Sweden, Finland and Turkey, according to The Associated Press.
High-level talks held last month in Turkey yielded no apparent progress toward approving Sweden’s application. At the time, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey said his position would not change unless Sweden took a tougher stance on pro-Kurdish protests in its capital, Stockholm.
Though Mr. Erdogan said Sweden had taken steps in the right direction toward a NATO bid — amending its constitution, strengthening its anti-terrorism legislation and lifting an arms embargo on Turkey — he said in a phone call with the Dutch prime minister that the continued pro-Kurdish protests had “negated” these steps, the Twitter account of the Turkish presidency reported on Wednesday.
If Sweden were to join NATO, it would be a serious rebuke to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. Mr. Putin has long fought the expansion of the alliance, but his invasion of Ukraine is fueling it instead.