US president Joe Biden met with the leaders of Finland and Sweden at the White House to offer robust support for their applications to join NATO. In the meeting, Biden said Finland and Sweden would make NATO stronger. He said their accession would enhance the security of the alliance and deepen security cooperation across the board. That’s as Turkey has threatened to block the Nordic nations from becoming members of the alliance. It has pressed Sweden to halt support for the Kurdistan Workers' Party or PKK it considers as a terrorist group and lift their bans on some arms sales to Turkey. All 30 NATO members need to approve Stockholm and Helsinki’s bid to join the alliance. Sweden and Finland have for decades stood outside the military alliance, but Russia’s military operation in Ukraine appears to have highlighted their security concerns.
North Korea fever surge
North Korea reports over 260,000 more cases from fever of unidentified origin, pushing the total to over two million. The country’s official news agency reported two more deaths, bringing the total fatalities to over 60. So far, North Korea has refused to link the fever cases to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, it confirmed last week that at least one of those died had been diagnosed with the Omicron variant of the Coronavirus. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has slammed officials for not taking practical measures to timely prevent the outbreak of the virus. Kim has also imposed preventive measures including restrictions on movement and quarantines.
Bid to expand BRICS
China’s president calls for unity among the members of emerging economies – known as BRICS – to shape global security for all. Xi Jingping urged BRICS countries to enhance political trust and security cooperation to promote peace and development. XI made the remarks in a virtual meeting of BRICS foreign ministers. Also speaking at the meeting, China’s foreign minister said Beijing aims to expand BRICS. China will be hosting the other BRICS members, Brazil, Russia, India, and South Africa, for the 14th summit of the organization in late June.