Finland joins NATO defense ministers’ meeting on Afghanistan

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A Finnish soldier of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) sits atop an armoured vehicle passing by a destroyed building in Kabul, Afghanistan. (Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images)
Finland participated in a meeting of NATO defence ministers in Brussels on Thursday. Defence Minister Jussi Niinistö was the Finnish representative at the talks.

The talks were expected to focus on crisis management operations in Afghanistan, where Finland has deployed a team of 30 people mostly involved in training activities.

During the meeting, NATO member states and other partners  were to focus on updating information about the operation, which has been ongoing since 2015. Lately, Afghanistan has suffered several bloody attacks, including a recent strike on a television station in the capital Kabul.

The United States has said that it would like to increase the number of troops in the country by 3,000 soldiers. Finland’s current mandate would allow it to boost its complement of crisis management operatives to 40.

Following Thursday’s meeting, Niinistö is expected to participate in a session lead by the US Defence Secretary and involving a coalition against the extremist group ISIS.

On Tuesday Niinistö said that he had invited the United States to Finnish military exercises due to take place in 2020 or 2021. He presented the offer during a separate tripartite defence meeting involving Finland, Sweden and the US in Helsinki on Tuesday.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Surveillance and search and rescue top Canada’s Arctic defence priorities, Radio Canada International

Denmark: Denmark’s new defence agreement renews focus on protecting the Baltic, Radio Canada International

Finland:  Finnish Air force to take part in joint Finnish-Swedish-US military exercises, Yle News

Norway:  Russia’s Northern Fleet takes on key role in search and rescue exercise with Norway, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: What Russia’s new Navy Strategy says about the Arctic, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Sweden’s Prime Minister reaffirms commitment to country’s defense, Radio Sweden

United States: Here’s what’s in the U.S. Defense Department’s new Arctic strategy, Alaska Dispatch News

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