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President Sauli Niinistö will make a working visit to Washington DC on Tuesday, 29 August, 2017.
President Sauli Niinistö will make a working visit to Washington DC on Tuesday, 29 August, 2017.

 

The Office of the President of Finland announced yesterday that President Sauli Niinistö will meet US President Donald Trump in Washington DC on Tuesday, 29 August.

No details of the agenda of the meeting were disclosed, but the timing of the meeting may provide an indication of the issues on the agenda and the objectives of the United States. The meeting is to take place roughly a month after Niinistö met Russian President Vladimir Putin in Savonlinna, Eastern Finland.

Niinistö himself estimated that the invitation is an indication of American interest in Finland and the foreign policy role of Finland. He refused, however, to declare himself as an intermediary between the two world powers.

“I’m not comfortable declaring myself as an intermediary. I have a very pragmatic approach. If we can get something done, that’s what we’ll do,” he was quoted as saying in a meeting with senior editors-in-chief by Helsingin Sanomat on Thursday.

He also revealed that he was invited to the White House already in December. Earlier attempts to schedule the meeting, however, were unsuccessful.

The meeting will be of great significance to Finland, Mika Aaltola, a programme director at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs, estimated in an interview on ISTV on Thursday.

“Having a functioning relationship with the United States is extremely important for Finland,” he said, highlighting that the meeting will present the country's foreign policy leaders a unique opportunity to find out what is going on in Washington under the unpredictable rule of President Trump.

“This is great news.”

The United States, he believes, is likely to be interested in picking the brain of Niinistö on Russia but also in discussing the situation in the Arctic, the Baltic Sea Region and the defence co-operation of Finland. The United States handed the chairmanship of the Arctic Council over to Finland in May, 2017.

“Niinistö has just met Putin. He may be able to tell what’s going on in the mind of Putin,” said Aaltola.

Finland has recently hosted a number of influential heads of state. Putin visited the country in late July; Shinzo Abe, the Prime Minister of Japan, earlier in July; and Xi Jinping, the President of the People’s Republic of China, in early April.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Roni Rekomaa – Lehtikuva
Source: Uusi Suomi

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