On Friday, the Finnish president, Sauli Niinistö, traveled to Washington D.C. for discussions with US President Joe Biden.

President of Finland Sauli Niinistö met President of the United States Joseph R. Biden in Washington D.C. on Friday, March 4, 2022. Photograph: Pasi Rajala/Embassy of Finland, Washington D.C.

The Finnish president, Sauli Niinistö, met with his US counterpart, Joe Biden, at the White House in a working visit late on Friday evening Finnish time.

The media was invited to listen to the beginning of their talks.

President Niinistö said:

“We are really living difficult times. Thank you for your leadership. We need it now. Our thoughts today undoubtedly are with the Ukrainian people who are fighting bravely for their country. And we do our best to help.”

President Niinistö continued by stating that “we have a long-lasting partnership, very good relations and I hope that during this meeting and discussion, we can strengthen them more between the United States and Finland and the Nordic countries altogether.”

President Biden replied with a quote from the former US president, Barack Obama, “We would be alright if we left everything for the Nordic countries. We would be fine.”

President Niinistö laughed.

“Well, we usually don’t start wars,” Niinistö said.

Biden replied with a smile and thanked the media for attending the beginning of their talks.

While the presidents did not hold a press conference together after their discussions, because the visit was not a state visit between the heads of the respective countries, President Niinistö answered questions afterward in a press conference of his own. (A state visit is an official visit to a foreign country by the invitation of the host country’s head of state.)

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After the talks, President Niinistö said that “Finland has now clearly moved toward closer cooperation with the United States.”

According to Niinistö, this process strengthens “our safety,” and “safeguarding Finland is the key goal.”

On Saturday, the Swedish prime minister, Magdalena Andersson, and the Swedish defense minister, Peter Hultqvist, will visit Finland for discussions with President Niinistö, Prime Minister Sanna Marin (the SDP) and Minister of Defence Antti Kaikkonen (the Centre).

According to a statement by the Finnish government, the topics of their joint discussion will include Russia’s warfare in Ukraine, the changed security situation in Europe and cooperation between Finland and Sweden.

The prime ministers will additionally have a bilateral meeting, the topics of which include the security situation in Europe, economic issues and other topical EU affairs. The defense ministers will also conduct a bilateral discussion.