WASHINGTON, Dec 6 (KUNA) -- The United States and Sweden have inked their first mutual defense cooperation agreement during a visit to the US by Swedish Minister of Defense Pal Jonson, the Pentagon said in a statement released early on Wednesday.
The accord, inked by US Secretary of Defense LIyod J. Austin in the end of a meeting with his visiting Swedish counterpart, is designed to enhance defense cooperation by establishing the conditions for U.S. forces to operate in Sweden, including the legal status of U.S. military personnel, access to deployment areas, pre-positioning of military materiel, and tax and customs regulations.
It will empower the US and Sweden to expand further close security partnership, enhance cooperation in multilateral security operations and strengthen transatlantic security together, the Pentagon statement said.
"By design, the Defense Cooperation Agreement (DCA) will apply seamlessly before and after Sweden's accession to the NATO Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA)," it added.
SOFA, worked out in the middle of the past century, stipulates that the forces of "one party may be sent, by arrangement, to serve in the territory of another party.
The DCA reflects the U.S. commitment to strengthening defense partnerships around the world to advance "our shared security and prosperity," it said.
Secretary Austin and Minister Jonson affirmed their commitment to expanding the breadth and depth of the U.S.-Sweden partnership amidst a significantly challenging security environment. The two officials discussed the evolving situation in Europe and agreed on the importance of continued robust support to Ukraine in the face of "Russia's illegal and full-scale invasion of Ukraine." Secretary Austin reiterated his support for Sweden's NATO membership and expectation that accession occur as soon as possible.
Sweden is a strong, capable defense partner that champions NATO's values, and will further strengthen the Alliance once its NATO accession is completed, the official statement said.
Sweden's membership will strengthen "our collective defense and enhance our ability to respond to security challenges in the Euro-Atlantic area. Sweden will be a net security provider from its first day in NATO, and the Alliance will be stronger with Sweden as a NATO Ally." (end)