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US Defence Secretary James Mattis to visit Helsinki next week

US Secretary of Defence James Mattis travels to Finland on Sunday ahead of a meeting of the Northern Group defence ministers in Helsinki on Tuesday, November 7. The office of the Finnish President, Sauli Niinistö, announced on Friday that Secretary Mattis will also meet with Niinistö at the Presidential Palace on Monday.

James Mattis
US Defence Secretary James Mattis Image: Chris Kleponis / Pool / EPA

US Secretary of Defence James Mattis will travel to Finland next week to participate in a plenary session of the so-called Northern Group's defence ministers on Tuesday, November 7, and meet with the Finnish President, Sauli Niinistö, on Monday, November 6.

The Finnish President's website says the Northern Group defence minister session will discuss regional security, transatlantic defence cooperation and joint military exercises and acquisitions.

The Northern Group includes 11 countries: the Nordics of Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Iceland, as well as the Baltic countries of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia; and several other countries from northern Europe: the Netherlands, the UK, Poland and Germany. All but two of the members, Sweden and Finland, are members of NATO.

The US Department of Defence website says that Secretary Mattis will depart the US already Sunday for Finland. On Friday, the office of Finland's President, Sauli Niinistö, announced that Niinistö will meet with Secretary Mattis in Helsinki on Monday.

Mattis and Niinistö's second meeting

After his stay in Helsinki, Mattis will travel to Belgium and the UK.

In Brussels, the retired US Marine Corps general "Mad Dog" Mattis is scheduled to meet with ministers from the alliance of countries fighting the terrorist organization calling itself Islamic State. In Britain, Mattis will meet with the newly elected defence minister, Gavin Williamson.

Finland's President Sauli Niinistö met US Secretary of Defence Mattis for a one-on-one meeting earlier this year, in concert with February's Munich Security Conference in Germany. 

Finland's Defence Minister Jussi Niinistö (no relation to the Finnish President) will serve as Secretary Mattis' host during his stay in the country.

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