Finland Times

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Home NATIONALFinland to join air exercise with US, Sweden
Sat, 07 Feb, 2015 01:01:09 AM
FTimes-Xinhua Report, Feb 7


President Sauli Niinistö announced on Friday that Finland has accepted a U.S. invitation to join an air force exercise in the Baltic Sea area in March, media reports said.

The president disclosed it after holding a meeting with the Cabinet Committee on Foreign and Security Policy.

  However, the training exercise will take place either in the international airspace or in Finnish or Swedish airspace, but not in Estonian airspace as earlier speculated.

     The exercise is expected to last three weeks and Finland will be participating during the first two weeks, the president was quoted by Finnish national broadcaster Yle as saying.


The U.S. embassy in Finland earlier said the U.S. air force planned to launch a bilateral U.S.-Estonia training exercise and to invite neighboring Finland and Sweden to join.

     Estonia has no jet fighter capability of its own, but U.S. president Barack Obama has expressed willingness to increase U.S. military presence in the country and the Ämari air base in Estonia seems an ideal location to host U.S. aircraft.

     Yle reported that the Finnish foreign policy leadership had been split on the issue. Niinistö and Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja were uncertain as to whether Finland should take part, while Prime Minister Alexander Stubb and Defense Minister Carl Haglund were in favour.


  The decision to accept the invitation was taken on Friday morning at a joint foreign policy and defense policy meeting, said Yle.

     According to the broadcaster, the president said "he did not know what the attitude of Russia was" towards Finnish participation in the coming exercise.

Meanwhile, a government press release issued on Friday said that the Cabinet Committee on Foreign and Security Policy also discussed Finland's participation in the


nternational security sector training cooperation in Iraq.

Finland will continue preparations for participation in training activities in northern Iraq with a contingent of up to 50 soldiers, said the press release.

The Parliament will be consulted through the submission of a report on the matter in accordance with the Act on Military Crisis Management.


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