- The Washington Times - Monday, July 16, 2018

President Trump was cooling his heels Monday at his hotel in Helsinki, Finland, when Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived late for the highly anticipated summit between the two leaders.

The airplane carrying Mr. Putin arrived at about at Helsinki airport at about 1:10 p.m. local time (6:10 a.m. EDT). It was the same time that the meeting was scheduled to start.

The late arrival pushed back the summit at least 30 minutes.

The late arrival could have been a power play by the former KGB officer. The flight also could have been unintentionally delayed.

Mr. Trump weathered criticism for his late arrivals at a G-7 summit in Canada last month and at a NATO summit meeting last week.

Earlier Monday, Mr. Trump was nonchalant about the upcoming powwow with Mr. Putin.

“We’ll do just fine,” he said of the meeting as he and first lady Melania Trump visited Mantyniemi Palace, one of the official residences of the Finnish president.

Mr. Trump has set low expectations for the summit, which comes amid indictments against 12 Russian military intelligence officers for hacking the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

The discussions will focus on areas of conflict with Russia, from election meddling to the annexation of Crimea and the wars in Syria and Ukraine.

At the palace, Mr. Trump and Mrs. Trump were welcomed by Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and first lady Jenni Elina Haukio.

“We really appreciate Finland, very highly respect your country,” Mr. Trump said when they met. “I enjoyed being with you a couple of days ago.”

He was referring to the NATO summit in Brussels last week where Mr. Trump pressured fellow leaders to increase defense spending.

His insistence on increased burden sharing — the U.S. has been spending the lion’s share to defend Europe for decades — shook up the NATO meeting.

“NATO has, I think, never been stronger,” Mr. Trump told Mr. Niinisto. “It was a little bit tough at the beginning, but it turned out to be love. I appreciated your support.”


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