Trump arrives in Helsinki, to hold summit with Putin

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Helsinki, July 16 (IANS) US President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin will hold their first official summit here on Monday, in which the leaders are expected to address issues including Syria, Ukraine conflicts, nuclear disarmament and the alleged interference of Moscow in the 2016 American elections.

Trump arrived here on Sunday night from Scotland after wrapping up his UK visit.

The summit is scheduled to start at 1.20 p.m. at the Presidential Palace with a private meeting between Trump and Putin, accompanied by interpreters, reports Efe news.

The meeting will last about one-and-a-half hours.

Trump and Putin will then hold a working lunch together with their ministers and advisers, followed by a joint press conference.

Trump previously said he has “low expectations” for the summit, while the Kremlin stressed the most important thing is to establish channels of dialogue in order to improve bilateral ties.

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The two leaders are also expected to discuss Syria, where the US aims to restrain the Iranian military presence and hopes that Russia can exert more influence over Tehran in that regard.

The agenda will likely include the possible extension of the New START Nuclear Arms Reduction Treaty, which is set to expire in 2021.

Moscow has repeatedly slammed the deployment of US missile systems in eastern Europe, while Washington has condemned Russia’s alleged violations of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, under which the signatories are obliged to eliminate all short- and medium-range nuclear and conventional missiles.

Ukraine is another item on the agenda, although the conflict in the east of the country between the Kiev army and the pro-Russian rebels backed by Moscow has been entrenched for months and the last agreed ceasefires have been ineffective.

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Helsinki has beefed up security for this event, with increased police patrolling around the city.

Part of the downtown will be closed on Monday, everyday life of ordinary people has been affected and public transport are disturbed, reports Xinhua news agency.

The police said 16 or more demonstrations were registered before and during the summit, and on Sunday around 2,500 people got together at the city’s Senate Square to protest against the summit and Trump.

According to Mayor of Helsinki Jan Vapaavuori, it was the two presidents themselves that decided to meet in the city, adding that he had no expectations over the summit but only provided suitable circumstances for it, and the city was not worried about the protests at all.

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–IANS

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