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Norway PM to focus on Arctic and trade at White House

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Norway PM to focus on Arctic and trade at White House
Norwegian PM Erna Solberg will be in Washington on Friday. Photo: Tore Meek / NTB scanpix
09:35 CEST+02:00
The Arctic will be at the top of Erna Solberg’s list of things to discuss with Barack Obama when the Norwegian PM visits the White House on Friday.
President Obama will host the leaders of Norway and the other Nordic nations at a Friday summit in Washington. 
 
“Coordination of Arctic issues” is listed among the topics that the Americans have put on the agenda, along with security issues and climate. And that agenda fits perfectly with Solberg’s priorities. 
 
“My goal is what I see as a very important security issue for Norway: the maritime and Atlantic dimension. It is important to remind [the US] about this area’s importance in the new security situation,” she told NTB. 
 
The prime minister will also use the opportunity to remind Obama about Norway’s position outside of the EU. 
 
“We are concerned about the Americans remembering the connection to Norway. It is important for us to be visible because often the Americans view Europe as the EU,” she said. 
 
“When the EU and the US are negotiating a free trade agreement, it is particularly important [that Norway is considered]. Otherwise, we risk suffering some negative consequences from such an agreement,” Solberg added. 
 
The Norwegian PM said that the White House meeting is a sign that the US “is committed to ensuring good friendships with like-minded countries” and she believes that the Nordics are seen as important partners for much of Obama’s agenda. 
 
Solberg said it makes perfect sense for the Nordic nations to take the meeting with Obama together but added she certainly wouldn’t have objected to receiving an invitation to come to the White House alone. 
 
“It’s always best to be invited to come alone but then there wouldn’t have been a 90 minute meeting and a state dinner,” she said, referring to the extravagant banquet that will conclude the top meeting between the US, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland and Finland. 
 
The White House has said that Friday’s meeting will “highlight America’s continued commitment to European security, trans-Atlantic trade and the promotion of common democratic values”. 
 
The US has for years been Europe’s security guarantee. But now, the Republican’s presumptive presidential nominee, Donald Trump, has created doubts about that commitment by saying that the US should spend less money on Nato. 
 
“I don’t think we’ll see the US leave Nato,” Solberg said. “We have a more unpredictable and more self-assured Russia that the United States will continue to be concerned about. And thus, Russia’s neighbours are incredibly important.”
 
Solberg played down concerns about Trump’s comments by saying that discussions about decreasing the US’s international involvement is a steady theme in American presidential campaigns. 
 
“Europe is still the best ally they have on almost every single international issue and they are aware of that,” the PM said.
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