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Niinistö wraps up US trip, discusses Putin with CNN

The interview follows the president's talks with US leaders in Washington, as Finland's bid to join Nato appears stalled by Turkish opposition.

President Sauli Niinistö addressed the UN General Assembly on Tuesday. Image: EPA-EFE

The American cable news network CNN broadcasts an interview with President Sauli Niinistö on Sunday.

According to a tweet from host Fareed Zakaria, the interview on the programme Global Public Square covers issues including whether Europe can hold together in support of Ukraine this winter, the risk of an expanded war and Russian President Vladimir Putin's state of mind.

Niinistö has been one of the few Western leaders to maintain a regular dialogue with Putin in recent years. The two presidents last met in person last October, and have had at least three phone conversations this year. The CNN interview airs at 5 pm Finnish time.

"Putin whisperer"

The president was last interviewed by CNN in July, when host Christiane Amanpour referred to him as the "Putin whisperer". Niinistö and Putin both took office in the spring of 2012, although Putin had served two terms earlier.

On Sunday Niinistö wraps up a week-long visit to the UK and US. After attending the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II in London, he addressed the UN General Assembly and received a Global Citizen Award in New York.

He then held talks with various officials in Washington including the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senator Jim Risch, a Republican from Idaho who is the ranking member (vice-chair) of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Nato bid may inch forward next week

Besides the war, the leaders certainly discussed Finland's bid to join Nato, which now appears stalled, along with that of Sweden, due to Turkish demands. The Nordic neighbours applied to join Nato last May. Membership requires approval from all 30 member states.

On Friday Amanda Paul, a senior policy analyst focusing on Turkey at the European Policy Centre (EPC) think tank, told Estonian public broadcaster ERR that the Turkish parliament would not make a decision on the two applications before next summer.

According to ERR, Hungary has also been hesitant on the Finnish and Swedish applications, but Justice Minister Judit Varga said that Hungary will support their accession. The only other hold-out, Slovakia, is likely to ratify Finland and Sweden's accession next week, it said.

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