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Finnish President Sauli Niinistö (on right) and US President Joe Biden at a joint press conference in Helsinki on Thursday evening. Picture: Lehtikuva / Antti Aimo-Koivisto

As it happened: Biden makes "rock solid" commitment to defend Finland during official visit

President Biden visited Helsinki on Thursday to meet his Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinistö and to attend the US-Nordic Leaders Summit.

Ronan Browne
Mark B. Odom

Biden makes "rock solid" commitment to defend Finland

In his opening remarks at a joint press conference, President Biden once again welcomed Finland as the newest member of Nato, saying that the US and Finland have been "friends for a long time" but they are now officially allies.

"Mr President, as our ally, we want the people of Finland to know the United States is committed to Nato, committed to Finland, and those commitments are rock solid. We will defend every inch of Nato territory and that includes Finland."

Niinistö thanked Biden for the support the United States offered Finland as it joined Nato.

"I want to once again thank you for the strong support you have given Finland all the time. This is a new era in Finnish security policy and you will be one of those who wrote it in history," Niinistö said.

As Biden's visit took place a day after the conclusion of the Nato Summit, Niinistö, Biden and the Nordic premiers reconfirmed the importance of the alliance for security and stability.

The leaders also said they welcomed the recent progress made in Sweden's bid to join Nato.

The leaders further reiterated their "unequivocal condemnation" of Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine, and pledged to continue supporting Ukraine.

Niinistö described their talk about Russia and Ukraine.

"We also had a discussion about our neighbour [Russia], and I think we both share similar views. The war in Ukraine was also discussed, and we both see that we will continue to support Ukraine, which is not only defending itself but also the values we hold in the western world."

Biden said the result of Russia's invasion of Ukraine will have widespread effects around the world.

"Over the past week we reaffirmed our unwavering support for the brave people of Ukraine as they defend their country against Russia's brutal and inhumane attacks. Our allies and partners around the world understand that this fight is not only a fight for the future of Ukraine, it's about sovereignty, security and freedom itself."

During their meeting, Biden, Niinistö and the Nordic premiers reconfirmed their "strong partnership" and increased cooperation in the areas of security, the environment, technology and society, according to a joint statement from the Finnish president's office and the White House.

Ronan Browne

Biden departs Finland

US President Joe Biden ends his five-day, three-country tour of Europe as Air Force One prepares for take-off from Helsinki Airport.

Mark B. Odom

Nordic leaders wrap up summit

The US-Nordic Leaders' Summit has ended, with leaders reaffirming Nato's significant impact on regional and transatlantic security.

The leaders also reiterated that Sweden should be able to join Nato as soon as possible, saying that the inclusion of both Finland and Sweden in the alliance would enhance the Nordic region's ability to contribute to the security of all Allies.

Various other areas of cooperation were also discussed at the meeting, including topics like the environment, technology, and society. On environmental issues, the leaders emphasised the importance of addressing climate change and biodiversity loss, particularly in the Arctic.

Ronan Browne

Biden: US shares common values with Nordics

During his opening speech before the US-Nordic summit, President Biden noted the importance of Finland joining Nato and said the US shared common challenges but also common values with the Nordic nations.

"We just finished an historic Nato Summit, and I think it was historic, where we welcomed Finland's accession to Nato and reached an agreement to move forward on Sweden's membership in Nato. And it was a reminder that the nations around the table not only share common history but we share common challenges," he said.

Ronan Browne

Biden visit prompts two protests in Helsinki

Two demonstrations were organised in Helsinki on Thursday, protesting the US president's visit. The first demonstration, organised by a group called "White Overalls," took place in front of Parliament House.

Picture: Lehtikuva / Eelis Berglund

"In our opinion, Biden is no better than Russian President Vladimir Putin – the US initiates wars all over the world. We are here to provoke some thoughts," a representative of the demonstrators told commercial broadcaster MTV.

A larger group gathered a couple of blocks down Mannerheimintie street, in Erottaja Square, protesting against the establishment of Nato bases in Finland.

Picture: Christoffer Kaski / Yle
Ronan Browne

Capturing the Joe Show

Hundreds of people took to the streets of Helsinki to catch a glimpse of President Biden's motorcade as it made its way to the Presidential Palace on Thursday afternoon, many with their mobile phone in hand to capture the moment for posterity (and social media).

Joe Biden Helsingissä.
Picture: Jussi Mankkinen / Yle
Joe Biden Helsingissä.
Picture: Jussi Mankkinen / Yle
Paljon ihmisiä Esplanadin puistossa odottamassa Joe Bidenin autosaattuetta
Picture: Veli-Matti Salminen / lukijan kuva
Ronan Browne

US-Nordic Leaders Summit kicks off

Aside from his bilateral meeting with Sauli Niinistö, US President Biden is also in Helsinki to attend the US-Nordic Leaders Summit — hosted by Niinistö.

Also in attendance are Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, Norwegian PM Jonas Gahr Støre, Danish premier Mette Frederiksen and Iceland's Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir.

US President Biden, Finnish President Niinistö and the Prime Ministers of the four other Nordic countries are attending the summit Picture: Lehtikuva / Antti Aimo-Koivisto

Before the summit began, each of the leaders spoke briefly about the significance of the meeting — with President Biden requoting former President Barack Obama's line about the Nordic way of life.

"If we left the important decisions to the Nordic countries, we'd all be in good shape," Biden said. "There is a vision for the world that we all share, it's one that's more free, more secure and opportunities are made available for all.

The US President also noted the importance of tackling climate change in his opening remarks.

"We are working together to tackle the climate crisis which you've been leaders on for a long time, in order to literally preserve our planet, it's the only existential threat humanity faces and we don't have a lot of time," he added.

Ronan Browne

Finns welcome Biden

Since Air Force One touched down at Helsinki Airport on Wednesday night, Finnish people have been eagerly sharing on social media their experiences about the arrival of Biden and his entourage.

"Welcome to Finland, Mr. President" has been a popular phrase on social media, as Finns have welcomed the US President by sharing images of the descending aircraft, the presidential motorcade, and some of Finland's natural beauty.

Ronan Browne

Extensive no-fly zones in effect around Helsinki and Finland

There are extensive no-fly zones in effect throughout Finland, airport operating firm Finavia said in a press release.

An 80-kilometre flight restriction zone is in force around Helsinki in addition to one along Finland's eastern border with Russia.

No fly zode during Biden's visit
Picture: Riikka Tähtinen / Yle

The restriction zones apply to gliders, ultralight planes, hot air balloons, parachutes, hang gliders, paragliders, drones, hobby rockets and unmanned aerial vehicles. The airspace restriction at Helsinki Airport does not affect commercial air traffic.

The restrictions will be in effect from 12 July at 18:00 until 14 July at 18:00.

Ronan Browne

Biden-Niinistö meeting begins

The bilateral meeting between Finnish President Sauli Niinistö and his US counterpart Joe Biden is now underway at the Presidential Palace.

The discussions between the two leaders revolve around bilateral relations between Finland and the United States, as well as the current geopolitical situation.

Apart from the presidents, Prime Minister Petteri Orpo (NCP), and Hiski Haukkala, the Finnish President's chief of staff, are also present at the meeting. President Biden is accompanied by his national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, and the White House press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre.

Presidentti Joe Biden ja presidentti Sauli Niinistö sekä muita ihmisiä kokous pöydän äärellä.
The meeting is taking place at the Presidential Palace. Picture: Kimmo Brandt / EPA

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