Mikhail Gorbachev, the last president of the Soviet Union who had played a vital role in ending the Cold War with the West and also made a valiant last-ditch effort to save the crumbling Soviet Union though was unsuccessful, has expressed hope that the summit between the presidents of the US and Russia - Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, respectively, in Helsinki on July 16 could be a historic occasion, Associated Press reported.
The 87-year-old leader was quoted by Russia's Interfax news agency as saying on Thursday, June 28, that if the presidents of the two Cold War foes take steps towards cooperation, their meeting would be seen in history as a major landmark, AP reported.
The venue and the date for the summit were announced on Thursday after US National Security Advisor John Bolton went to Russia to meet Putin and other top officials of the Kremlin.
Helsinki is a not new to US-Russia summits as Gorbachev himself had met former US president George H W Bush, now 94, there in 1990. He said Finland's capital made a perfect setting for such a meeting, the AP report said.
Finland has a history of holding summits between the two Cold War foes, especially when the world was deeply divided between the Capitalist and communist blocs because of its stance as a neutral buffer state and Helsinki being a gateway between the two ideologically incompatible worlds. Besides the Bush-Gorbachev summit of 1990, Helsinki had also seen a summit between former American president Gerald Ford and Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev in 1975. Also in 1997, the then US president Bill Clinton met Boris Yeltsin, the first president of Russia, in Helsinki to discuss the expansion of Nato into the former countries of the former Soviet bloc.
Trump's meeting with Putin will be his second high-profile summit in just over a month. On June 12, the American president flew to Singapore to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in a historic summit to discuss denuclearisation and peace in the Korean Peninsula. Just like Finland, Singapore was picked as the venue on that occasion because of its neutrality.
Issues like Ukraine, Syria and the Kremlin's alleged meddling in US presidential election of 2016 are likely to feature in the talks between the two leaders in Helsinki.