U.S. President Donald Trump said his upcoming meeting with Russia’s Vladimir Putin will go “fine.”
Trump made the brief prediction Monday at a breakfast at Finland’s presidential residence in Helsinki.
He was meeting with Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö (SAW-lee KNEE-nes-tuh) in the hours before his highly anticipated summit with Putin.
Trump thanked his Finnish counterpart for hosting the summit in Helsinki and spoke of his commitment to NATO.
Trump also thanked Niinisto for his presence at last week's NATO summit in Brussels - depsite Finland not being a NATO member state.
Trump said: "I enjoyed being with you a couple of days ago. NATO has, I think, never been stronger. And it was really -- it was a little bit tough at the beginning, and it turned out to be love. It really was a great meeting that we had and brought everybody together, and, I think, very worthwhile."
Trump was a destabilizing presence at NATO earlier in his European trip, torching allies and demanding more defense spending before eventually reaffirming his commitment to the military alliance.
NATO at its heart is a bulwark against Russian aggression. Finland is not a member nation but has a memorandum of understanding with NATO.
Finland has also been the site of previous US-Russia summits.
Finland’s biggest newspaper has a message for Trump and Putin: Respect a free press.
Daily Helsingin Sanomat has placed advertisements around Helsinki alluding to Finland’s reputation as a hub for a free press. The advocacy group Reporters Without Borders has regularly ranked Finland among the top in its “Press Freedom Index” — including the No. 1 spot two years ago.
The Russian in one of the black and white ads translates to: “Unpleasant things will happen to journalists who ask Putin questions.”
An English version for Trump said: “Mr. President, welcome to the land of free press.”
Trump regularly berates some news outlets as purveyors of “fake news.” Putin is regarded as creating a culture of violence that has led to the killing of some Russian journalists.
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