Finland, Sweden hold top level meetings in Helsinki

Source: Xinhua| 2019-01-29 06:17:41|Editor: mmm
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HELSINKI, Jan. 28 (Xinhua) -- Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven conferred in Helsinki on Monday.

A release of the presidential office said the talks of Niinisto and Lofven covered cooperation between Finland and Sweden, European defense cooperation and issues related to the Arctic region.

The meeting was the first in a series of high level encounters between Finland and Sweden early this week. On Tuesday, Lofven is to meet Finnish Prime Minister Juha Sipila.

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom will arrive in Helsinki on Tuesday for talks with Finnish Foreign Minister Timo Soini.

In the Swedish government declaration last week, Finland was the only defense partner of Sweden mentioned by name. "We are deepening our defense cooperation especially with Finland", Lofven formulated in the declaration.

The meetings in Helsinki take place against the backdrop of the statement by the new Swedish government that Sweden will not apply for a NATO membership during this governmental tenure and a recent security policy statement by Niinisto underlining the limits in the cooperation with NATO.

In an address at the Finnish Military Academy late last year, Niinisto noted explicitly that Finland would not allow its territory to be used for "hostile purposes against third parties". This was seen by observers as an assurance towards Russia and carried a recollection to the cold war era when Finland had a treaty commitment on not allowing its territory to be used against the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).

Niinisto described the presence of foreign troops in Finland as "by invitation only". Niinisto further said that there was hardly any need to widen the cooperation with NATO.