U.S. and France discuss how to support Finland and Sweden's bids to join NATO

FILE PHOTO: Flags wave outside the Alliance headquarters ahead of a NATO Defence Ministers meeting, in Brussels, Belgium, October 21, 2021. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and France's new foreign minister Catherine Colonna discussed the NATO alliance including how best to support Finland and Sweden's membership bids in a call on Sunday, the U.S. State Department said in a statement.

Blinken and Colonna also agreed on the importance of continuing support to Ukraine and maintaining "significant costs" on Russian President Vladimir Putin over the invasion of Ukraine, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in the statement.

Russia calls its military action in Ukraine a "special operation."

(Reporting by Chris Gallagher; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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