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Finland's President Niinisto declares election victory

An independent presidential candidate Sauli Niinisto attends his election reception in Helsinki, Finland, January 28, 2018. LEHTIKUVA/Jussi Nukari via REUTERS

HELSINKI (Reuters) - Finland’s moderate President Sauli Niinisto declared his re-election for a new six-year term after securing a comfortable lead in the early results from Sunday’s election.

“I am very surprised at this kind of support. I must think hard how to be worthy of it,” 69-year-old Niinisto, who is known for cultivating good relations with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, told reporters.

With about 86 percent of votes counted, center-right Niinisto had won 62.1 percent, compared with 13.1 percent for closest rival Pekka Haavisto.

Reporting by Jussi Rosendahl; Editing by David Goodman