The website of the Russian President Vladimir Putin reports that the Moscow leader would be pleased to accept President of Finland Sauli Niinistö's invitation to visit the country and mark the 100th anniversary of Finnish independence.
Niinistö last spoke on the phone with Putin on December 30, when the Finnish president offered his condolences on the murder of Ambassador Karlov in Turkey and the plane crash that took the lives of many Red Army choir members on Christmas Day.
The two leaders also discussed their bilateral cooperation, the Syrian conflict and other international issues during the call. Events to commemorate the 2017 Finnish centennial celebrations were also mentioned.
Niinistö and Putin met on two occasions in 2016, once in March, when the Finnish President travelled to the Novo-Ogarjovo state residence in Russia. Among other things, the two leaders discussed border restrictions in Lapland to stem migrant traffic and the situation in Ukraine.
They met again in July when Putin travelled to Niinistö's summer residence in southwest Naantali. Items discussed in the summer included bilateral trade and Baltic Sea security. Putin agreed to explore Niinistö’s initiative for mandatory transponder use in military planes, after several Russian jet incursions into Finnish air space.
Putin hinted during the July 2016 visit that Russia would react if Finland joined NATO, but said Russia would respect Finland's sovereign decision on the matter.
News of Putin’s planned 2017 visit was first reported by the tabloid Iltalehti.