Stoltenberg and Putin meet in Helsinki

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Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg sat down for talks with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin during a break in a conference dealing with environmental issues in the Baltic Sea. Their topic involved jurisdiction over the Barents Sea and a longtime dispute over borders stretching to the North Pole.

It’s a sensitive issue, and Norway wants the area divided in equal parts, while Russia has wanted to follow a sector principle, with a line extending from the Russian Norwegian border to the North Pole. That puts a wide area equal to 155,000 square kilometers in dispute.

Putin himself brought up the line issue, reports newspaper Aftenposten, saying that “Norway is one of our most stable partners, and we will negotiate a solution for a dividing line in the Barents Sea” as he started his meeting with Stoltenberg.

The Norwegian prime minister said the two had “a good tone” but there are “demanding questions.” Both sides understand that a solution will open for closer Russian-Norwegian cooperation.

The meeting between Stoltenberg and Putin comes just a few months before Russian President Dimitri Medvedev is expected in Oslo for a state visit. Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre met with his counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Moscow last week.

By Views and News staff