"Sweden and Finland are real close friends of NATO. Close friends are invited to dinner and that's what we do," Stoltenberg said at a press conference prior to the summit in Warsaw as quoted by the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet.
Norway's former prime minister called Sweden and Finland "very close partners," lauding their contribution to many NATO operations, such as the one in Afghanistan. According to Stoltenberg, Sweden and Finland are crucial in matters pertaining to security and stability in the Baltic region.
"This is a partnership that is beneficial for both Sweden and Finland on the one hand, and for NATO and NATO allies on the other hand. And then it always is up to Sweden and Finland to decide if they want more than just a dinner," Stoltenberg said about his invitation.
"We need more dialogue," Stoltenberg explained.
It is the first time Finland and Sweden have participated in the Heads of State dinner at a NATO summit. Both countries have recently stepped up their cooperation with NATO to an unprecedented level and are now as close to NATO as one can get without becoming a full member. Last year, Finland and Sweden, also participated in various meetings at NATO headquarters in Brussels.
Sweden will be represented by Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, Foreign Minister Margot Wallström and Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist, whereas President Sauli Niinistö, Defense Minister Jussi Niinistö and Foreign Minister Timo Soini will represent Finland.