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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Finnish President Arrives

Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari arrived in Moscow for talks with top Russian officials Wednesday, a day after calling Russia's environmental problems a "time bomb" for the Baltic region.


President Boris Yeltsin, who was scheduled to meet with Ahtisaari in the Kremlin at the start of a two-day round of meetings and talks, said there were no unresolved problems in Russian-Finnish ties, according to Interfax.


But Ahtisaari apparently feels differently. In remarks on the eve of his trip, he made clear that he is greatly concerned by Russian pollution along the 1,269-kilometer border between the two countries.


The Finnish president, speaking in London, called the threat from Russian pollution his nation's top security problem, and reportedly said he'd rather be able to swim in a cleaned-up Baltic Sea than join NATO.


Ahtisaari is pushing for the European Union to focus more on Baltic problems and needs. He was likely to convey a similar message to Yeltsin and other high-ranking officials in Russia, which he says has the main responsibility for cleaning itself up.


Other issues expected to be on his agenda included Russia's initiatives on security in the Baltic region, the three Baltic countries' efforts to join NATO and Russia's cooperation with the EU.


The two presidents are expected to sign a package of agreements on financing and stimulating joint Finnish-Russian investment.


Besides the talks with Yeltsin, Ahtisaari was scheduled to meet on Thursday with Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Bulgak and Yegor Stroyev, chairman of the Federation Council, or upper house of parliament.


He also was to attend a ceremony opening an office of the Finnish oil company Neste, speak to a business seminar, visit the Moscow Institute of International Relations and attend a concert of the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, Itar-Tass said.


Yeltsin invited Ahtisaari to Moscow in conjunction with a Days of Finland cultural celebration.


Accompanying him were Foreign Minister Tarja Halonen, European Affairs Minister Ole Norrback and Transport and Communications Minister Matti Aura.


Thursday's meeting will be the third for Yeltsin and Ahtisaari, who last met during Yeltsin's June vacation in Karelia. Ahtisaari invited Yeltsin to Finland this fall, but Yeltsin said he was unable to go because of scheduling conflicts.