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Finland's president rakes memory for source of Trump remark

Finnish President Sauli Niinisto remembered telling Trump "We take care of our forests," but couldn't recall raking coming up.
Image: Donald Trump shakes hands with Sauli Niinisto
President Donald Trump shakes hands with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto during a joint news conference at the White House on Aug. 28, 2017.Alex Brandon / AP file
/ Source: Associated Press

HELSINKI — Finland's president isn't sure where U.S. President Donald Trump got the idea that raking is part of his country's routine for managing its substantial forests.

Trump told reporters Saturday while visiting the ruins of the Northern California town where a fire killed at least 76 people that wildfires weren't a problem in Finland because crews "spend a lot of time on raking and cleaning and doing things" to clear forest floors.

Finnish President Sauli Niinisto said in an interview published Sunday in the Ilta-Sanomat newspaper that he spoke briefly with Trump about forest management on Nov. 11, when they both were in Paris for Armistice Day events.

Niinisto said their conversation focused on the California wildfires and the surveillance system Finland uses to monitor forests for fires. He remembered telling Trump "We take care of our forests," but couldn't recall raking coming up.

The U.S. leader's comment generated amusement on social media in Finland, which manages its vast forests with scientific seriousness.

"Wartime is no excuse not to #rake the forests," one person tweeted, including a historical photo of soldiers appearing to move some brush.

Another tweeted a picture of a small child with a rake, adding, "In Finland even small kids rake forests."

One woman posted a photo of herself pretending to tend to the forest floor with a vacuum.

Forests cover over 70 percent of Finland's 338,000 square kilometers. The Nordic country with a population of 5.5 million is home to some of the world's biggest paper and pulp companies.