07:36 GMT +3 hours27 May 2016

Russian-Finnish relations are excellent - Finnish President

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TURKU (FINLAND), August 2 (RIA Novosti) - Relations between Russia and Finland are in an excellent state now and the level of cooperation is intense, Finnish President Tarja Halonen told a press conference here Tuesday after talks with her visiting Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin. Halonen said she and the Russian president had discussed a wide range of issues of mutual concern and were both willing to cooperate in tackling the shared problems.

Speaking of travel rules between Russia and the EU, she said the sides should conclude a framework agreement to relax the existing visa regulations and to streamline the process of issuing visas.

The Finnish President said her talks with Putin today included forestry, high technology, innovation, and common border arrangements. Halonen said she hoped they would take up these issues at their next meeting in St. Petersburg this autumn. She added that in Turku, she would have an opportunity to show her guest some of Finland's latest scientific achievements, particularly in biotechnology.

With Finland assuming the rotating EU presidency in the latter half of 2006, Halonen said EU-Russian cooperation and the Northern Dimension program would be among the key priorities of her agenda. She thanked Russia for its support of the program, initiated by Finland in September 1997 and launched as an official EU strategy in June 1999. It is aimed at balancing the development in southern and northern Europe by drawing on the abundant natural resources of northern Russia.

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