Putin congratulates Finland's Niinisto on presidential win

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Finland's pragmatic president Sauli Niinisto, whose skills at staving off tensions with the Nordic nation's powerful neighbor Russian Federation have earned him popularity among voters, was poised to win another six-year term following voting Sunday.

Recent polls predict the 69-year-old Niinisto will get between 58 and 63 per cent of the vote while his closest rival, Pekka Haavisto of the Greens, would garner some 14 per cent. "Surely we will follow very closely what is happening outside of Finland, globally, and if needed, then we will surely react", he said.

While the position is largely ceremonial, the presidential duties include involvement in Finland's foreign policy.

Niinisto has appeared as a low-profile middle-man between East and West, in sharp contrast to his Baltic counterparts who regularly speak out against Moscow.

It has developed closer ties with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation but has not joined the alliance as it attempts to avoid antagonizing Moscow. He faced flak for inviting Putin to visit shortly after the annexation.

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"I think there is no reason to seek a (NATO) membership as long as circumstances are as they are now", Niinisto said on Sunday. "We differ on Crimea and East Ukraine and the sanctions, but we've cleared the air on that".

Rather than seeking the nomination of his National Coalition, Niinisto ran as an independent candidate. He said he believed the people were satisfied with him, Xinhua reported.

He lost his first wife in a vehicle accident in 1995.

Niinisto received 62.7 percent of the vote on Sunday, with seven other candidates receiving the remaining 37 percent.

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