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Russia's president will pay a working visit Thursday to Finland
Russia's president will pay a working visit Thursday to Finland, where a Russian-European Union summit will be held the next day, at the invitation of the country's leader. At their fourth meeting this year, Vladimir Putin and Tarja Halonen will focus on trade and customs, and will "consider their approaches to key issues on bilateral, European, and global agendas," a Kremlin source said. Russia's and Finland's railroad monopolies are expected to sign an agreement to set up a joint venture. Russian Railways Co. plans to buy a high-speed train from Finland for a line between St. Petersburg and Helsinki. Finland's presidential office said Finnish negotiators planned to discuss traffic jams on the Finnish-Russian border, where lines of trailers and trucks stretched dozens of kilometers during bad weather earlier in November. A Kremlin source confirmed earlier the countries intend to discuss measures to streamline traffic across the border. Forestry, one of the main areas of cooperation between Russia and Finland, with 20% of the Finnish timber industry working for Russia, will also be central during talks Thursday. Russia has announced plans to switch from timber sales to domestic processing. Putin and Hallonen will also discuss ways of stepping up investment cooperation, particularly in hi-tech industries. As of June 2006, Finnish accumulated investment in Russia, basically its timber, chemical, and machine-building industries, stood at over $755 million. Russian investment in the Finnish economy has reached over $470 million, according to the Kremlin. Finland is among Russia's 10 leading trading partners. Bilateral trade last year hit $10.7 billion, or up 32% on 2005. The figure is expected to grow further this year, as commodity turnover between January and August 2006 stood at 8.6%, up 14%, year-on-year. Friday's summit meeting is also supposed to be the venue for talks on a new Russia-EU partnership pact. However, the talks might have to be postponed over objections from Poland, which demands that Russia first lift its embargo on Polish meat and sign the Energy Charter with Europe. Putin will also attend a Northern Dimension meeting the same day. The initiative addresses environmental problems, crime and other challenges in northern regions, and is designed to promote development.
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