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Finnish president denies Trump claim of fighter jets sale
Finnish President Sauli Niinistö is denying that his country has purchased new Boeing-made fighter jets, the day after President Trump asserted that it was a done deal during a joint press conference at the White House.
"One of the things that is happening is you're purchasing large amounts of our F-18 aircraft from Boeing. It's one of the great planes, one of the great fighter jets," Trump said Monday, standing next to his Finnish counterpart.
Niinistö did not comment on Trump's assertion at the time but looked surprised. He later denied the Boeing deal on Twitter and to reporters in Washington, as reported by Reuters.
"It seems that on the sale side, past decisions and hopes about future decisions have mixed ... The purchase is just starting, and that is very clear here," Niinistö said.
Finland already has purchased roughly 60 Boeing-made F/A-18 Hornet fighter jets, but in late 2015, sought to replace the aircraft.
Five companies, including U.S. defense firms Boeing and Lockheed Martin, are in the running for the Finnish new contract, but the country will not make its decision until 2021. Also competing are Saab, Dassault Aviation and the jointly made Eurofighter.
Trump veered into the comments after he was asked by a Finnish reporter about what kind of assistance the U.S. would be willing to give to Finland in the event of diplomatic breakdown between the ally and Russia. The two countries share an 830-mile border.
At the same press conference, Trump declined to single out Russia as a "security threat" amid rising tensions among the Baltic states.
"I consider many countries as a security threat, unfortunately, when you look at what's going on in the world today," the president said.
He later added: "I hope that we do have good relations with Russia. I say it loud and clear, I have been saying it for years. I think it's a good thing if we have great relationships, or at least good relationships, with Russia."