An armoured vehicle took part during a Finnish-Swedish joint exercise on Gotland, Sweden, in September 2017. Finnish and US officials are presently in talks over a bilateral defence co-operation agreement that is designed to, first and foremost, enable smooth bilateral co-operation in all security situations and on short notice, writes Helsingin Sanomat. (Anders Wiklund – AFP / Lehtikuva)

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OFFICIALS from Finland and the United States are presently negotiating a defence agreement that would grant the US Armed Forces an opportunity to freely utilise Finnish soil and military bases for exercise and defence equipment storage purposes, reports Helsingin Sanomat.

Negotiations over the bilateral defence co-operation agreement (DCA) took place last week in Katajanokka, Helsinki.

Mikael Antell, a deputy director general at the policy department of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, stated to the daily newspaper yesterday that the negotiators have reviewed the agreement once in a “positive and solutions-focused spirit among allies”.

Antell, who is in charge of the negotiations for Finland, told that the agreement will solidify the Finnish deterrent and defence capabilities through US presence and possible advance stationing of defence equipment, supplementing the Finnish membership in Nato.

“The most important thing is that the agreement enables smooth co-operation with the US in all security situations and also on short notice,” he summarised to Helsingin Sanomat.

Unlike other agreements on defence co-operation, including the host nation support agreement with Nato, the bilateral agreement is a binding treaty with a much broader scope of application, according to Antell.

“The DCA agreement enables the entry and stay of troops, the advance storage of materiel, and possible infrastructure investments through funds granted to Pentagon by the US Congress,” he outlined.

The agreement does not apply to nuclear weapons, according to Helsingin Sanomat.

President Sauli Niinistö stated to YLE roughly a week ago that a bilateral agreement is required to “maximise” the security of Finland. “In that sense, the US is a key player,” he commented on the morning talk show the public broadcaster.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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