Norway's then ambassador to the UN Morten Wetland sitting next to Crown Princess Mette-Marit (the sister of his boss at First House) at the UNAIDS conference in New York in 2011. Photo: Johannes Ber
Norwegian lobby firm First House briefed a meeting of prominent Norwegian business people on efforts to repair the country's icy relationship with China as recently as this Tuesday, Aftenposten has reported.
According to the paper, First House partner Morten Wetland answered questions from Norwegian businessmen on the article he published the previous week criticising the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to President Barack Obama.
The article has triggered a furore of recrimination and counter-recrimination in Norway, with Aftenposten's political editor Harald Stanghelle writing on Tuesday night that it had been written as part of a lobbying effort against Thorbjørn Jagland, the chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.
According to Aftenposten, the meeting on Tuesday was the fifth gathering of a group of business people and union officials set up in 2012 specifically to look into repairing icy relations with China following the 2010 award of the Nobel Peace Prize to the Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo.
According to the newspaper, the meeting predominantly covered the government's handling of the visit of the Dalai Lama earlier this month, but also touched on Morten Wetland's article.
"Morten Wetland got a question about the op-ed he had written, which he answered," Sturla Henriksen, the chief executive of the Norwegian Shipowners' Association, told the paper. "But I cannot remember that he said something other than what was in the op-ed."
Henriksen confirmed to Aftenposten that the Norwegian Nobel Committee had been mentioned during Tuesday's meeting, but stressed that it had not been the meeting's main agenda.
He also confirmed that First House worked for his association. However he said that the lobby group was employed on a general assignment rather than specifically to lobby over the composition of the Nobel Committee.
Here is the list of attendees at the meeting.
Gerd Kristiansen, leader of the LO union.
Rune Bjerke, CEO of DNB.
Kristin Skogen Lund, head of the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise (NHO).
Gerhard Heiberg, IOC member and partner in Norscan Partners AS.
Walter Qvam, Kongsberg Gruppen.
Gunn Værsted, Nordea.
Morten Wetland, First House.
Bjørn Richard Johansen, First House.
Kristian Gerhard Jebsen, shipowner
Geir Sviggum, partner and former Shanghai office head of the Wikborg Rein law firm.
Berit Kjøll, Norwegian businesswoman
Gunn Ovesen, Innovation Norway.
Henrik O. Madsen, DNV GL.
Felix Tschudi, Tschudi Shipping.
Terje Martinussen, Norwegian Seafood Council.
Bjorn Andersson, President and CEO of TTS Group.
Morits Skaugen, shipowner.
Vibeke Hammer Madsen, Aker Solutions board member.