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EU sees maintaining dialogue with Russia as ‘good step’ — Finnish leader

June 11, 2015, 19:38 UTC+3 HELSINKI
Sauli Niinisto has discussed his upcoming trip to Russia with European Union leaders and garnered their support
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Finnish President Sauli Niinisto

Finnish President Sauli Niinisto

© EPA/HUGO DELGADO

HELSINKI, June 11. /TASS/. Finnish President Sauli Niinisto said on Thursday that the European Union considered it necessary to maintain and continue dialogue with Russia.

"The EU and the West believe that maintaining dialogue with Russia is a good step and this dialogue should be continued," Niinisto said ahead of his visit to the country on June 16 at the invitation of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Niinisto said he had discussed his upcoming trip to Russia with European Union leaders and garnered their support. At the same time, he added that he "will not convey any common message to Russia from the EU".

The office of the Finnish president said Niinisto’s meeting with Putin would focus on the crisis in Ukraine, bilateral relations between Russia and Finland and Moscow’s relations with the European Union.

The last time the Finnish president visited Russia was in August 2014. He had talks with Putin in the Black Sea resort of Sochi. During his previous visit in September 2013, Niinisto together with the Russian leader attended the International Arctic Forum in Salekhard in western Siberia and an opening ceremony at the Nyagan power plant in Russia’s Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Region of western Siberia, built by a Russian-Finnish energy company.

Over the past year, the leaders of the two countries have more than once talked by telephone. In a phone call in April, Putin and Niinisto discussed cooperation between Russia and Finland, Russia-EU relations, Arctic partnership and, according to the Kremlin press service, they also "exchanged views on the situation in Ukraine with an emphasis on the need to implement" peace accords reached in Minsk, Belarus, in February.

The Kremlin said on Thursday that the agenda of the forthcoming talks would focus on "bilateral cooperation in trade, economic, investment, cultural and humanitarian spheres", as well as "pressing international problems".

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