09:59 GMT +320 October 2019
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    USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71)

    Finland Free to Decide on Its NATO Membership

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    Finland’s Defense Minister Carl Haglund met his Swedish and British counterparts on board a US aircraft carrier Sunday in a sign of growing military cooperation between Helsinki and NATO.

    Carl Haglund joined Peter Hultqvist and Michael Fallon for a day at sea aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, which is currently cruising in the English Channel.

    Mr. Haglund, who was accompanied by the head of the Finnish parliament’s defense committee Jussi Niinistö and a group of defense ministry officials, said the visit was all about “normal defense policy cooperation” and had nothing to do with the upcoming elections in his country.

    “We host a regular visit program with our forces afloat in theater to enable distinguished leaders to see the capability of the United States Navy,” said

    Commander of the US Naval Forces Europe-Africa Admiral Mark Ferguson when greeting his guests, adding that Finland was free to decide on its possible membership of NATO.

    Carl Haglund, for his part, mentioned the close military cooperation between the Finnish and US air forces. He said that Finnish pilots were flying the F/A-18 Hornet strike fighter aircraft, dozens of which are normally stationed on board the Theodore Roosevelt.

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    NATO, aircraft carrier, visit, Peter Hultqvist, Michael Fallon, Carl Haglund, Europe
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