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Niinistö to meet Trump: "Baltic situation on the agenda"

Good relations with NATO and Russia were likely behind President Niinistö's invitation to the White House. This will be the first meeting between Niinistö and Trump, and the first one-on-one White House meeting between a Finnish and an American president in a decade and a half.

Sauli Niinistö ja Donald Trump.
Sauli Niinistö and Donald Trump. Image: AOP

President Sauli Niinistö is set to meet US President Donald Trump in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, August 29.

 “The situation at the Baltic Sea will definitely be on the agenda”, Niinistö revealed while meeting press at the Teijo Natural Park.

Niinistö said he would like to discuss the negotiations between military alliance NATO and Russia, as good communication on both sides could ease any tensions.

“At the very least the other side will know what the others are doing,” Niinistö said. 

Russia’s and Belarus’ joint military exercise Zapad will take place in the Baltic Sea in September. Finland and the United States will participate in another military exercise near the Swedish coastline.

From the Arctic to Afghanistan

Other issues on the table will be Finland's role in the Arctic region. Finland inherited the two-year chairmanship of the Arctic Council from the United States.

Niinistö says this connection is a definite strength in the upcoming talks. He also believes meetings this spring with US and NATO representatives were a factor in him getting an invitation to the White House.

“I’m under the impression that they have now realized Finland’s level of expertise on these matters,” Niinistö says. 

Earlier this week President Trump unveiled plans to send more troops to Afghanistan. When questioned whether Finland would be ready to send more troops to Afghanistan, Niinistö refused to speculate.

“Finland has around 30 people in Afghanistan. We have not been asked to deploy any more soldiers,” he said.

Trump phoned Niinistö in early December last year, a few weeks after winning the election. According to Niinistö, Trump was clearly aware that the Finnish leader has had "perhaps a slightly exceptional connection to [Russian] President Vladimir Putin."

This will be the first meeting between Niinistö and Trump, and the first one-on-one White House meeting between a Finnish and an American president in a decade and a half.

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