15:58 GMT02 December 2020
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    HELSINKI (Sputnik) - Finnish Defence Minister Antti Kaikkonen and his Swedish counterpart, Peter Hultqvist, agreed to enhance defence cooperation following the recent trilateral meeting with US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper, the ministers said in a joint statement issued on Saturday.

    "The security situation in Northern Europe and the Baltic Sea region is becoming increasingly complex, which requires closer bilateral and multilateral cooperation ... We will continue cooperation in [conducting] military exercises, as well as at the civilian and ministerial levels," the statement published by Finland's Lannen Media holding and Sweden's Dagens Nyheter newspaper said.

    According to the joint statement, the countries are to sign new bilateral agreements and amend national legislation to deepen the cooperation. In particular, they should conclude agreements that will allow them to conduct joint or coordinated operations in both Finland and Sweden.

    The ministers added that they were working on ways to increase the efficiency of their defence forces, while the ministries were monitoring the security situation permanently.

    On December 6, the Swedish, Finnish and US defence ministers signed a trilateral agreement on strengthening relations and enhancing the EU-NATO strategic partnership. They also paid special attention to joint exercises.

    security, cooperation, defence, Sweden, Finland
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