HELSINKI, Aug. 29 (Xinhua) -- Finnish Defense Ministry on Tuesday corrected inaccurate statements by U.S. President Donald Trump regarding Finland's alleged acquisition of U.S. fighter jets.
"No decision has been made about the successor to the current F-18 fleet," said the ministry.
Finnish media and politicians were bemused when Trump said at Monday's joint press conference with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto in the White House that "Finland is buying" F-18 fighters from Boeing.
Niinisto did not comment on Trump's words during the press conference, but the presidential staff told the media immediately afterwards that even the tenders for the purchase have not been sent out yet.
Finland is preparing for acquisition of new multirole fighter aircraft to replace its current F-18 fleet. Based on an initial survey, it would send quests to Boeing for Super Hornet F-18, to Lockheed Martin for F-35, to French Dassault for Rafael, to British BAE for Euro fighter Typhoon and to Swedish Saab for Gripen E.
The decision on the purchase should be made in 2021.
Talking to Finnish media on Tuesday in Washington, Niinisto said there was "no way President Trump was not clear that the Finnish fighter purchase is at an early stage."
Niinisto defined Trump's remarks as "sales talk." He also dismissed the information instantly on social media.
Matti Vanhanen, chairman of Finnish parliamentary foreign affairs committee, said the statement by Trump was baffling. "It may be his way to push matters forward. But it should have been corrected there instantly."
Vanhanen said on national broadcaster Yle radio that, "As years of tendering lie ahead, it is not good if the view prevails at the top level in the United States that purchasing from the United States is evident," Vanhanen noted.
Mika Aaltola, director of the North American sector at the Finnish Institute for International Affairs, said the mention of F18 by Trump can be understood as an advisory that the United States wants something back in return for the protection of Finland.