US, Russian military leaders meet in Finland for talks
HELSINKI (AP) — The top U.S. military chief met Friday in Finland with his Russian counterpart to exchange views on U.S.-Russia military relations, Syria and the international security situation.
The meeting between Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Russia’s chief of the military’s General Staff, Gen. Valery Gerasimov, took place in Konigstedt Manor, a Finnish state-owned venue north of the capital, Helsinki.
The Russian Defense Ministry said Gerasimov and Dunford discussed European security issues and the situation in Syria.
A brief statement on the Joint Chiefs of Staff website stressed, without elaborating, that U.S. and Russian militaries “have undertaken efforts to improve operational safety and strategic stability.”
“Both (military) leaders recognize the importance of maintaining regular communication to avoid miscalculation and to promote transparency and de-confliction in areas where our militaries are operating in close proximity,” the U.S. statement said.
Neither Dunford nor Gerasimov spoke to media. “In accordance with past practice, both generals have agreed to keep the details of their conversations private,” the Joint Chief of Staff statement said.
On Thursday, Dunford met separately with Finland’s military chief, Gen. Jarmo Lindberg who also held talks with Gerasimov.
Both military leaders had separate meetings with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto late Friday.
“It is important and a positive thing that this of kind dialogue takes place,” Niinisto’s office said. “Finland is happy to provide facilities for these kind of meetings.”
Finland hosted a similar meeting in 2008 at the same venue.
In April, NATO’s top military officer, U.S. Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, met with Gerasimov in Baku, Azerbaijan. It was the first such encounter since relations between Moscow and the alliance sank to post-Cold War lows over the Ukrainian crisis and Russia’s 2014 annexation of the Crimean Peninsula.