US Defence Secretary James Mattis praised relations between Finland and the US on Monday, saying that ties between the two countries have never been stronger.
"Relations between the United States and Finland have never been stronger," Mattis declared during a brief press conference Monday afternoon.
Mattis' comments followed bilateral talks in Helsinki with President Sauli Niinistö on Monday. Mattis is on a two-day visit to Finland and met separately with Niinistö ahead of a plenary session of Northern Group defence ministers on Tuesday.
During the press conference, the US defence secretary congratulated Finland on its independence centennial and noted that Finns have had to fight for independence.
"Even after 100 years of freedom, this country shows no signs of complacency," Mattis commented.
He thanked the country for its role in the fight against terrorism.
For his part, Niinistö said that talks with Mattis focused maintaining global peace. He also extended condolences to the US over a deadly shooting in Texas that killed at least 26 people yesterday.