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Saturday, April 20, 2024

Norway invited to exclusive ‘environmental dinner’ at UN

Norway’s newly re-elected Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg was included in a select group of world leaders who were invited to a “working dinner” with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in New York this week. It was part of a new environmental offensive tied to climate talks at the UN.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon with Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre, also in New York this week. PHOTO: Mark Garten/UN

Other invited guests included US President Barack Obama, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Hu Jintao of China, the latter of whom cheered environmental advocates by promising emissions cuts. Both Stoltenberg and Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre faced a busy week before and after the UN General Assembly opened on Wednesday.

Diplomats in New York had murmured that it wasn’t to be taken for granted that Norway would be invited to Ban Ki-moon’s dinner table, despite Norway’s active role in urging measures to halt climate change.

For one thing, relations with Ban were challenged last month after a confidential Norwegian report criticizing his performance was leaked to newspaper Aftenposten. It also was necessary to make room around the table for countries much larger and more powerful than Norway, like the US, Russia and China.

But Ban’s recent trip to Norway, and not least his visit to Svalbard and the polar ice, was deemed a success despite the tensions leading up to it, reported newspaper Aftenposten over the weekend. That thawed relations, while Norway and Stoltenberg also are considered to have a high degree of credibility on environmental issues.

Ban also vowed, while in Norway, to put pressure on world leaders to make real progress on emissions cuts at the upcoming climate conference in December in Copenhagen. He wants them “to seal the deal,” and Tuesday’s dinner likely was part of the effort.

Stoltenberg was in good company and looked forward to a UN climate seminar that preceded the dinner. He said after the dinner that when it was his turn to talk around the table, he stressed a need for concrete means to finance emissions cuts.

The “environmental day” at the UN preceded the opening of the UN General Assembly on Wednesday. Stoltenberg was also to take part in a program arranged by UN-REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation). He launched the program during last year’s session, with a goal of establishing rules and a surveillance system to reduce deforestation as part of a new climate agreement.

Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre is also in New York this week, with a full program tied to the UN. On Tuesday he was to lead a meeting of donor countries to the Palestinians, with emphasis on establishment of a Palestinian state with two years. Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair were also to take part. He also met with the foreign minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where two Norwegian men have been sentenced to death for committing a murder that they deny. Støre wants them repatriated to Norway.

On Wednesday Støre was scheduled to meet with other Nordic and Baltic foreign ministers, attend the opening of the general assembly, hold bilateral meetings and attend a reception hosted by the Obamas at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

On Thursday he’ll lead the annual Trygve Lie Symposium, aimed at furthering protection of civilian and international human rights, followed by the UN Security Council meeting on non-proliferation, and a meeting of the Friends of Democratic Pakistan, both with Obama.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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