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Downing Street Bulletin

Tony Blair met his Finnish counterpart in Number 10 for talks ahead of an informal summit of European leaders later this month.

Finland currently have Presidency of the EU and Matti Vanhanen and Mr Blair covered a wide range of issues during their Downing Street discussions.
Speaking to journalists afterwards, the PM praised Mr Vanhanen for his handling of the Presidency so far, adding:
"There are really difficult issues, but I think as ever Finland has shown itself extremely capable of dealing with them."

Mr Vanhanen's stated priorities for his six-month Presidency include the future of the EU, competitiveness, external relations, and justice and home affairs.
The two leaders will meet again at an informal summit of the 25 member nations in Finland later this month.

Looking ahead to the summit in Lahti on October 20, the PM said migration, energy policy and the importance of innovation in Europe's economy would be on the agenda.

Mr Blair went on to answer questions about the NATO forces operating in Afghanistan, of which Finland are a part.

• Read the press conference transcript
While in London, Prime Minister Vanhanen will deliver a lecture on the challenges of globalisation at the London School of Economics.

Government news
• Afternoon press briefing from 4 October 2006
• "Unique opportunity" for all parties in Northern Ireland - PM
• PM reflects on trade prospects during trip to Spanish capital


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