Støre and US ambassador have a chat

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US Ambassador Barry White put in a call to Norway’s Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre, after a new round of confidential US documents released through WikiLeaks revealed strong US criticism of Norwegian politics and politicians. It apparently was time to clear the air.

“The American ambassador called and said he thought the reporting (of the documents’ contents) was selective,” Gahr Støre told news bureau NTB.

Neither White nor US Embassy staff has wanted to comment publicly on the leaked documents, beyond a statement released by the embassy on Tuesday. Støre said White believed the media focused only on documents reflecting political disagreement between Norway and the US, and ignored all those reflecting agreement and mutual support.

Støre told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that he and White agreed in their conversation that Norway and the US are still good friends. “Norway has a friendly relationship to the USA,” Støre told NTB. “We had it under President Bush and we have it under Obama.”

He noted, however, that the leaked documents presented by newspaper Aftenposten on Tuesday confirm that the US experienced a “real change” in Norwegian politics after the left-center coalition government of which he’s a member won the national election in 2005. Støre said the coalition government has since been more pronounced in Norway’s criticism of US positions on Iraq, Guantanamo, a missile shield in Europe, cluster bombs and climate issues.

“It would have been surprising if that didn’t come through in the (embassy’s) reports,” Støre said.

He refused to address the harsh personal assessments that US embassy staff directed at himself and other government ministers, though, noting that most of them are no longer stationed in Oslo. In one report, Støre was branded as acting “morally superior,” and thinking he was “smarter” than everyone else.

Støre did reject statements in one report, which suggested he should receive something resembling adult education on his next visit to Washington, to rein in the new Norwegian government’s sudden burst of independence and assertiveness. “I had dozens of meetings with (former US Secretary of State) Condoleezza Rice, one-on-one and with delegations,” Støre told NTB, adding that he never received any reprimands, lessons or expressions of skepticism regarding, for example, cluster bombs.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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