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Finland's new president Niinisto sworn in

(Xinhua)

09:07, March 02, 2012

HELSINKI, Mar. 1 (Xinhua) -- The new Finnish president Sauli Niinisto began his six-year term on Thursday after being sworn in in parliament.

Niinisto, from the ruling National Coalition Party, beat the Green League candidate Pekka Haavisto with 62.6 percent of the vote in presidential elections in early February.

In an inauguration speech, President Niinisto said Finland's relationship with Russia remains at the centre of Finnish foreign policy. "Both bilateral relations with Russia and the evolving cooperation between the EU and Russia are important for us," he added.

He said Finland has a reputation for responsibility and solidarity in the European Union. "Our EU membership has brought us stability and a clear framework within which to plan for the future. We should seize the current opportunity to contribute to the development of the common security and defence policy."

Niinisto also said it is important to maintain a strong rapport with the United States while seeking new opportunities in China and other emerging economies.

Niinisto, 63, was elected as a member of the Finnish parliament in 1987. Since then, he has served as chairman of the National Coalition Party, minister of justice, minister of finance and, most recently, speaker of the Finnish parliament.

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