Norway: Nobel row did not sever China contacts

Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday said that contacts between Oslo and Beijing never stopped despite a row over a Chinese dissident winning the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize.

The comments came a day after Stoltenberg met with his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao on the sidelines of an Asia-Europe summit in Laos, a meeting that was reported as the countries' first official contact since the Nobel dispute.

But on Tuesday Stoltenberg said contacts with Beijing never stopped.

"I've spoken on occasion with the Chinese president and on different occasions with the deputy finance minister," he told the Norwegian NTB agency late on Monday.

Relations between Norway and China cooled between the two countries after the pro-democracy dissident Liu Xiaobo, whom Beijing considers a "criminal", was awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize.

The Nobel committee, which is independent of the government though its members are chosen by the Norwegian parliament, angered China.

Despite the chill in diplomatic relations and the restrictions China imposed on imported Norwegian salmon, trade has continued to prosper between the two countries over the past two years.

Last week, media reported that Chinese deputy foreign minister Ma Zhaoxu said it was up to Norway to make a gesture to normalize relations between the two countries.

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