“There are various reasons why Finland was the chosen place: its long history of U.S.-Russia meetings, its foreign policy stance and its geography,” Pertti Torstila, a former Finnish diplomat with more than 40 years of experience, told CNBC over the phone.
Finland hosted summits between the U.S. and the former Soviet Union in 1975, 1988 and 1990. This was mainly because the north European country took a neutral political stance during that period.
Even after that, and as a member of the European Union, Finland kept its role as bridge-builder between the West and the East. It hosted two other summits, in 1992 and 1997 — the latter brought together Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin. The meetings addressed security and economic issues.
“Both (presidents) know the host — (and) have good relationships with the Finnish president,” said Torstila, who served as an ambassador and as secretary of state during his 44 years at the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.