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Monday, July 15, 2024

Jens gets 35 minutes with Obama

And Norway’s prime minister has been seeking advice about how to make the most of his precious half-hour with the most powerful man in the world. The climate and Afghanistan are likely topics, but Jens Stoltenberg and Norwegian politicians have several other things on their minds as well.

Stoltenberg has been allotted a short meeting with US President Barack Obama in his high-rise office in downtown Oslo on Thursday morning, before Obama accepts his Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo’s City Hall.

The question nagging Stoltenberg for weeks has been: What are the most important things to talk about?

Newspaper Aftenposten reported Tuesday that most advisers say climate change and the war in Afghanistan will naturally be high on the agenda, but Stoltenberg’s meeting with Obama also offers a unique opportunity for Norway to bring up other subjects a bit nearer and dearer to Norwegian hearts.

Among them:Policies in the northern areas.As ice melts, the Arctic Ocean is getting bigger and natural resources tighter. That raises the prospects of territorial conflicts, not least with Russia. Norway, says foreign policy researcher Nina Græger, worries that NATO often overlooks the area.

Access to US markets for Norwegian salmon:Exporters complain they still meet obstacles trying to sell Norwegian salmon in the US, and want the Norwegian government to help.

Stoltenberg’s left-center government coalition also has a long wish-list for which it would enjoy Obama’s support. Its ambitions include ridding the world of poverty, ushering in more democracy and “limiting the negative effects of globalization,” according to its platform renewed after it won re-election last autumn.

To help meet those goals, Aftenposten notes that Stoltenberg’s government wants new international taxes imposed on air travel, carbon emissions and the weapons trade, and new international fees on currency exchange. It also wants better international control of financing, and crackdowns on tax havens and illegal currency transactions.

Stoltenberg called in his government partners for a meeting on November 11 to help set priorities for what he should discuss with Obama. There was broad agreement on the need to discuss environmental issues and climate change, but then the list got longer than time will allow.

In addition comes the advice from opposition politicians and special interest groups, who hope Stoltenberg will advise Obama against “getting involved in a new adventure in Iran” and to push forward peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. They also want Stoltenberg to encourage Obama’s support for carbon recapture programs and new wind power plants on the US prairie.

At the very least, they hope Stoltenberg won’t spend too much time showing Obama the view from his office.



For more news on Arctic developments.



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