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Sat, 14 May, 2016 12:06:16 AM
Obama accorded reception to Nordic leaders at WH
Niinistö-Obama held bilateral meeting
FTimes Report, May 14

President Sauli Niinistö on Friday said that the Nordic countries and the United States are united by issues such as gender equality, equal opportunities, human rights, democracy, the rule of law and respect for international law.

Speaking at a reception ceremony along with the Nordic leaders in White House accorded by US President Barack Obama, the visiting Finnish President also referred to the increasingly tense security situation in Northern Europe.

“Times are turbulent in many respects.  Security threats abound.  The situation has become more tense even in the Baltic Sea region and Northern Europe – our neck of the woods. Strengthening security and stability there is called for, and this includes appropriate dialogue with Russia to enhance transparency and reduce risk,” said Niinistö.

He thanked US for the leadership in combatting the climate change, drawing attention to Arctic issues, as well as multilateral cooperation, which is of vital importance to the Nordic countries.

Niinistö stated that the Nordic countries are security providers within their own region, as well as in Europe and globally.

“We shoulder our responsibilities. We seek solutions instead of problems. We are willing and able to continue to cooperate with you in promoting security and stability. We value highly the US commitment to Europe and to our security,” said the President.

According to Niinistö, the Nordics are together a superpower – not militarily, but when it comes to innovation, education, competitiveness, sustainable development and clean technologies. 

 “Seen together we are the world’s 12th largest economy. We also claim superpower status as far as culture and sports are concerned.   And - as you see we are champions in modesty too!” he added.

Obama in his speech joked that Finland has perhaps the world's largest number of heavy metal bands in relation to the population, and has exceptional number of good leaders, reported news agency STT.

Obama, however, said that he did not know whether there is a connection between the two aspects.

Obama also mentioned Angry Birds games as an example of Finland's gifts to the world.

Niinistö also held a bilateral talk with Obama on Friday where they discussed security issues among other topics, said an official press release.

"There was a consensus on the need for dialogue, the need to bring Russia back within the ambit of the international system through talks," said Niinistö while raised the issue of relations with Russia during the discussion.

The sanctions against Russia were also discussed and the leaders affirmed that the ending of sanctions was closely tied to the fulfilment of the Minsk Agreement.

 "It would be an important achievement and I believe that it would also relieve tensions in the Baltic region," Niinistö commented.

Niinistö noted that the extreme fragility of the Arctic environment and the need for great care in this regard was clear to all of the participants. In addition, he referred to an idea he has previously raised for a possible summit in Finland during the country's chairmanship of the Arctic Council.

However, the President said that this would require a more peaceful global situation.

During the visit, a joint statement was issued on deepening cooperation between the Nordic countries and the US in the areas of security and defence; immigration and refugees; climate, energy and Arctic issues; as well as economic growth and global development.

After the summit US Secretary of State John Kerry hosted a lunch to the leaders at the U.S. Department of State while the Friday's programmes scheduled to end amid a state dinner hosted by US President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House.

On Saturday morning Niinistö will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.

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