Published:  02:31 AM, 20 May 2022 Last Update: 02:38 AM, 20 May 2022

'No nuclear arms or Nato bases on Finland soil'

'No nuclear arms or Nato bases on Finland soil'
Finland does not want Nato to deploy nuclear weapons or set up military bases on its territory, even if Finland becomes a member, Prime Minister Sanna Marin told an Italian newspaper in an interview published on Thursday. Finland and Sweden formally applied to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) alliance on Wednesday, a decision spurred by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, but face objections from Turkey to an accession process that was originally expected to be relatively rapid, Reuters reports.

Ms Marin, on a visit in Rome to meet with her Italian counterpart Mario Draghi, said she believed the matter could be solved through dialogue.

"I think at this stage, it is important to stay calm, to have discussions with Turkey and all other member countries, answering questions that may exist and correcting any misunderstandings," Ms Marin told Italian daily Corriere della Sera.

Ms Marin also said the question of Nato deploying nuclear weapons or opening bases in Finland was not part of Helsinki's membership negotiations with the Western military alliance.

"Nor do I think there is any interest in deploying nuclear weapons or opening Nato bases in Finland," she said.

Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson of neighboring Sweden, which like Finland is also applying for Nato membership, has also said her country does not want permanent Nato bases or nuclear weapons on its territory.

Turkey, a Nato member since 1952, has expressed unexpected opposition to Finnish and Swedish memberships, accusing the Nordic neighbors of harboring individuals linked to groups it considers terrorist.

Ankara also cited the countries' arms export embargoes on Turkey after its Syria incursion in 2019.

Finland's President Sauli Niinisto and Ms Andersson are expected to meet United States President Joe Biden in Washington later on Thursday.

Italy strongly supports Finland's and Sweden's application to join Nato and is willing to speed up any internal procedures for the two countries to join the alliance as soon as possible, Mr Draghi said on Wednesday after meeting with Ms Marin.

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