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US, Russian diplomats to meet in Helsinki next week

US, Russian diplomats to meet in Helsinki next week
Written by IANS

Finnish officials on Saturday confirmed that US Undersecretary of State Thomas Shannon and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov will meet in Helsinki next week.

They will also meet Finnish President Sauli Niinisto, the Finnish presidential office confirmed to local media.

According Xinhua news agency, the agenda of the meeting, to be held on September 11-12, has not been reported. The US State Department noted that the two ministers will address “areas of bilateral concern and cooperation.”

Russian newsagency RIA Nowosti also reported the upcoming meeting on Saturday, quoting Russian diplomatic sources.

Teija Tiilikainen, director of the Finnish Institute for International Affairs, told newspaper Helsingin Sanomat that in the current international political situation the meeting has a greater importance than usual.

Although the agenda has not been released, Tiilikainen said it could be long. She mentioned the issues such as the situation in Syria, the Baltic Sea and the North Korea.

US and Soviet politicians and diplomats used to meet in Helsinki especially during the 1980s.

Tiilikainen commented that during his visit to Washington in late August, Niinisto got a lot of attention from US President Donald Trump.

“Perhaps the impression was obtained in Washington that Finland has a perspective and that it has a strong dialogue with Russia,” Tiilikainen was quoted as saying.

Commentators have seen the Helsinki meeting also as a prelude to the planned talks between foreign ministers Sergei Lavrov and Rex Tillerson, later in September in New York.

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