U.S., Russian diplomats to meet in Helsinki

U.S., Russian diplomats to meet in HelsinkiPresident Sauli Niinistö. File Photo President Office by Juhani Kandell.

U.S., Russian diplomats to meet in Helsinki

Finnish officials on Saturday confirmed that U.S. Undersecretary of State Thomas Shannon and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov will meet in Helsinki on Monday and Tuesday.

They will also meet President Sauli Niinistö, the presidential office confirmed to local media.

The agenda of the meeting has not been reported. The U.S. State Department noted that the two ministers will address “areas of bilateral concern and cooperation.”

Russian newsagency RIA Nowosti also reported the upcoming meeting on Saturday, quoting Russian diplomatic sources.

Teija Tiilikainen, director of the Finnish Institute for International Affairs, told a Finnish language newspaper Helsingin Sanomat that in the current international political situation the meeting has a greater importance than usual.

Although the agenda has not been released, Tiilikainen said it could be long. She mentioned the issues such as the situation in Syria, the Baltic Sea and the North Korea.

U.S. and Soviet politicians and diplomats used to meet in Helsinki especially during the 1980s.

Tiilikainen commented that during his visit to Washington in late August, Niinistö got a lot of attention from U.S. President Donald Trump. “Perhaps the impression was obtained in Washington that Finland has a perspective and that it has a strong dialogue with Russia,” Tiilikainen said.

Commentators have seen the Helsinki meeting also as a prelude to the planned talks between foreign ministers Sergei Lavrov and  Rex Tillerson, later in September in New York.

The announcement came after the U.S. and Russia was in a diplomatic row for months about the mutual actions to reduce the size of the diplomatic missions of each other.

During Niinistö’s visit to Washington, Trump voiced the willingness to improve the relationship with Russia and halt the downward spiral.

“I hope that we do have good relations with Russia,” Trump said at a joint press conference with Niinistö. “I think it’s a good thing if we have great relationships, or at least good relationships, with Russia.” _ Daily Finland


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