Finnish President Niinisto to meet Trump in White House

Source: Xinhua| 2017-08-17 23:05:10|Editor: yan
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HELSINKI, Aug. 17 (Xinhua) -- Finnish President Sauli Niinisto is to meet U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington on Aug. 29, the Finnish presidential office announced on Thursday.

The meeting will be the first encounter between the two leaders.

The last bilateral presidential meeting between the two countries was 15 years ago when then-Finnish president Tarja Halonen visited the White House.

Matti Vanhanen, chairman of the parliamentary foreign affairs committee, described the upcoming visit on Thursday as "a very good event."

Talking to newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, Vanhanen said he believed the meeting would be connected with the Finnish chairmanship of the Arctic Council.

"Finland has openly promoted the idea of arranging a summit of the Council members...The visit will give an opportunity to further the goals of the Finnish chairmanship," Vanhanen said.

Mika Aaltola, an expert at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs (FIIA), told media on Thursday "the fact that a bilateral meeting is arranged signals that relations are good."

Aaltola said Niinisto's visit would consolidate Finland's relationship with the United States.

Top level visits to Finland by U.S. politicians have been rare recently. U.S. leaders have frequently been to Estonia, Finland's southern neighbour.

Former U.S. vice president Joe Biden visited Finland during the Obama administration. Current U.S. Vice President Mike Pence was in Estonia earlier this month.