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SUMMIT NOTEBOOK: That wasn’t reindeer tripping on Clinton’s roof

March 21, 1997

HELSINKI, Finland (AP) _ It wasn’t the tiptoeing of tiny reindeer that kept President Clinton tossing and turning in his hotel room.

Arriving at today’s summit, Clinton told Russian President Boris Yeltsin that a series of loud thumpings on the ceiling above his bed kept him awake well past midnight.

``Boris, I thought you had hired an extra-large Finn to stomp on my roof,″ Clinton joked. Yeltsin laughed.

Spokesman Mike McCurry recounted the leaders’ private exchange for reporters.

As it turned out, McCurry said, the Hotel Intercontinental sauna is located above Clinton’s bedroom and it was the sound of pipes clanking on and off that kept him sleepless.

Making matters worse, a small group of human rights demonstrators rattled pots and pans outside Clinton’s hotel early this morning. Four of the demonstrators were arrested and charged with disturbing the peace.

Clinton had ``not had the most restful evening,″ McCurry rued.

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The summit may yet secure the future of the free world, but it’s been a big letdown for cabbies and bartenders in this Scandinavian capital.

``I guess they’ve all got their own cars,″ said Esko Kuitto, who drives a cab in Helsinki. ``It’s a bit disappointing really; we’ve not been that busy.″

Helicopters flew overhead and roads were briefly closed Friday for the presidential limousines and Clinton’s white van, but otherwise the U.S.-Russian meeting was in little evidence in downtown Helsinki.

Restaurant and nightclub workers moaned a lack of business but hoped for the best.

``I suppose everyone will party when the work is over,″ said Kirsti Kononen, a waitress at Hesperia Hotel.

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Arriving in Finland, they recoiled: ``What? Eggs with coffee?″ But the foreign journalists who initially pooh-poohed the native delicacy _ chocolate eggs covered in real egg shells _ have quickly warmed to the taste.

``Some even asked if they can take them for their wives and kids,″ said Julia Guthwert, who served coffee and eggs at the international press center in Finlandia Hall. The Mignon eggs are a popular, local Easter delicacy of milk chocolate.

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For one Helsinki supermarket, the summit meeting was also a summit meating (pun intended).

The Vexi supermarket ran a full-page ad on the front page in Helsinki’s Swedish-language newspaper Hufvudstadsbladet proclaiming it was holding a ``Toppnoete.″

That’s slightly slangy Swedish for ``top beef″ and a variation on ``toppmoete,″ the word for summit.

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