Finnish Foreign Minister to meet with U.S. Secretary of State in Washington

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Finland’s Foreign Minister Timo Soini. (Vesa Moilanen/AFP/Getty Images)
Finnish Foreign Minister Timo Soini heads to Washington this week for talks with his US opposite number, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, on Thursday.

According to the Foreign Ministry, Soini and Pompeo are to discuss trans-Atlantic cooperation, European security and hybrid threats among other issues.

Soini will also meet members of Congress and representatives of think tanks. He plans to discuss the impacts of last week’s midterm elections on US politics, relations between the European Union and the US as well as “the future of the rule-based system”, the ministry says.

The Foreign Ministry statement adds that “relations between Finland and the USA are excellent and contacts are extensive”.

US officials and others will likely be interested in Soini’s views on alleged Russian interference with GPS signals during recent NATO exercises in northern Finland, and the case of a murky Russian-owned firm that bought up properties in the Finnish archipelago.

First meeting since Trump-Putin summit
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gives a press conference at the US Department of State in Washington, DC on October 23, 2018. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images)

Pompeo has been Secretary of State since April, when he was appointed by President Donald Trump. Leaving his post as CIA director, Pompeo replaced former Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson, whom Trump had fired a month earlier. Soini met with Tillerson in 2017 and with Pompeo during the Putin-Trump summit in Helsinki last July.

Last spring Soini was reprimanded by the president for attending an anti-abortion event during an official visit to Canada, contradicting Finland’s official stance on the issue. He has attended the annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington for the last three years.

Soini, the founder and former chair of the populist Finns Party, has since mid-2017 been a member of the small Blue Reform party, which split off from his former party.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Nearly 2,000 Canadian troops take part in NATO’s largest exercise since Cold War, CBC News

Finland: Niinistö and Putin agree on Arctic, but at odds on NATO during Sochi talks, The Independent Barents Observer

Norway: NATO wants to keep tensions low in the High North, says Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Radio Canada International

Russia: Russia holds anti-submarine drill in Arctic ahead of large NATO exercise in Norway, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Major deal between Sweden’s Saab and U.S. Air Force a “sign of closer transatlantic ties”, says defence expert, Radio Sweden

United States: New symposium brings U.S. military’s attention to the Arctic, Alaska Public Media

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