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In our news wrap: Finland made official its declaration to join the western NATO alliance as the fellow Nordic nation of Sweden has also moved a step closer to applying for membership. Also, Turkey remains the greatest obstacle to Finland and Sweden's admission to NATO, and the sprawling city of Shanghai will begin gradually reopening some businesses under a COVID lockdown.
In today's headlines Russia's neighbor Finland made official its declaration to join the Western NATO Alliance. The Finnish President heralded the move as a new era entering NATO within the country's decades old position of military neutrality.
The Finnish Parliament must approve the move but is expected to endorse the decision in the coming days. Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that any effort to join NATO would damage their once friendly relations. But in an interview this morning on CNN, Finland's President made clear his recent conversation with Putin was more cordial than confrontational.
Sauli Niinisto, Finnish President:
Actually by equality in I wanted just to confirm that now. The situation is changed. We are going to apply membership. And in the same way, he confirmed that he thinks it's a mistake. We are not threatening you. All together, the discussion was very would I say calm and cool.
Fellow Nordic nation, Sweden has also moved a step closer to applying for NATO membership after the country's governing party gave the green light today. The plan will be discussed in Sweden's Parliament tomorrow, and a formal announcement is expected shortly thereafter.
The greatest obstacle to Finland and Sweden's admission to NATO is Turkey. Turkey could use its membership to veto moves to admit the two countries. Turkish President Erdogan has accused the Scandinavian nations of supporting Kurdish militant groups that it views as terrorists. Today Secretary of State Tony Blinken addressed the issue at a meeting of NATO diplomats in Berlin.
Antony Blinken, U.S. Secretary Of State:
The bottom line is this, when it comes to the membership process, I am very confident that we will reach consensus.
The vote for NATO membership must be unanimous.
And in China, the sprawling city of Shanghai will begin gradually reopening some businesses starting tomorrow. The city has remained under a COVID-19 lockdown for more than six weeks. But now some shopping malls, supermarkets and pharmacies will again welcome customers as case numbers in Shanghai continue to improve.
And in the reclusive nation of North Korea state run media reports that 15 more people have died in cases of what officials there are calling fever have afflicted nearly 300,000 people. It's unclear how many of these cases are due to COVID-19. The country which is home to some 26 million people is largely unvaccinated.
And still to come on "PBS News Weekend," how President Biden is trying to paint part of the GOP as to extreme ahead of this year's midterm elections. And how a contentious race for a U.S. Senate seat is shaping up in Pennsylvania.
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