It was only after newspaper Aftenposten asked the foreign ministry why the city’s Conservative Party mayor, Jens Johan Hjort, had not been invited to participate that Foreign Minster Jonas Gahr Støre (Labour Party) finally issued an invitation – a day before Clinton was due to land in the northern city.
Hjort was not alone in his ignorance: none of the members of Tromsø’s centre-right city government were informed of the visit in advance.
“It’s nice of the foreign ministry to include us, but I must say I’m not used to an invitation arriving a day before such an important visit,” he told Aftenposten.
The mayor’s role in proceedings will be to meet Clinton at the airport, the paper said.
While Hjort tried to stay positive, the deputy leader of the Conservative Party, Jan Tore Sanner, described as “unacceptable” the late arrival of the invitation.
“I hope this was an oversight on the part of the government, but I fear it’s an offensive display of arrogance towards the city of Tromsø and the local mayor. This would never have happened if the mayor of Tromsø was from the Labour Party,” he told Aftenposten.
The foreign ministry rejected the criticism, saying it had only learned last Friday that Clinton would fly to Tromsø as part of her two-day visit to Norway.
“It wasn’t until Wednesday, when a US advance party arrived in Tromsø that the final pieces of the visit fell into place,” spokeswoman Ragnhild Imerslund told the newspaper.