Officials in Finland confirmed on Friday July 13th that the summit between President Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin on July 16th will be held at one of the Finnish president’s official residences in Helsinki, a palace that overlooks the Baltic Sea where the presidents’ predecessors have met. It will be their first official stand-alone meeting.
The 3,000 square metre (32,292 square foot) Presidential Palace, which completed a major renovation in 2015, has hosted many prominent guests during its eventful past. It was built for a wealthy Finnish merchant in the early 19th century in grounds that formerly held a salt store house. Key rooms were modelled on the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, the official residence of Russian monarchs. The palace now is the working residence of Finland’s president.
US President George H.W. Bush and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev held talks at the same venue in 1990. Finland has a long legacy of hosting US-Soviet and US-Russian summits due to its geographical location and perceived neutrality.
The last time a summit brought presidential entourages from Moscow and Washington to Helsinki was in March 1997. Presidents Bill Clinton and Russian President Boris Yeltsin held talks on arms control and NATO expansion. As reported by AP, along with the presidents, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov are set to meet at the Presidential Palace on July 16th.
Researcher Sari Autio-Sarasmo at the University of Helsinki’s Aleksanteri Institute said the Finnish capital and Vienna were important conduits between the East and the West during the Cold War.