Stoltenberg on major tour

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Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg is on a major international tour this week, first in Mexico and now in Washington, where he met US President Barack Obama and Federal Reserve Bank Chairman Ben Bernanke. The climate, the economy and nuclear weapons are all on the agenda.

Norway's Prime Minister Stoltenberg talks with Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke in Washington

Stoltenberg was invited on Monday for a meeting with the powerful head of the US’ central bank. Norway’s economy held up well during the finance crisis and Stoltenberg can boast of the lowest unemployment rate in Europe, while the US is having a rough time emerging from the worst recession in decades.

“The crisis isn’t over, but it’s taking on a new form,” Stoltenberg told Norwegian reporters after his meeting with Bernanke (photo). Stoltenberg said Bernanke remains “uneasy” about the US’ huge budget deficit and high unemployment, “which it will take time to bring down.”

US President Barack Obama welcomes Prime Minister of Norway Jens Stoltenberg to the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington

Stoltenberg said that Bernanke could point to an upturn in production, but “even though the acute crisis is over, other crises are turning up.” He told reporters that “we’ve gone from a finance crisis to a job crisis,” and that has direct consequences for Norway’s own economy.

“If things go well in the American economy, it’s easier to sell Norwegian goods in the US and other countries,” Stoltenberg noted. “So what happens here (in Washington) is important for Norway.”

He said he told Bernanke how Norway has succeeded with keeping unemployment low, because oil revenues allow the country “to save during the good times for use during the bad times.” 

Stoltenberg also shook hands again with Obama (photo), who has invited leaders of 47 countries including Norway to a summit meeting aimed at nuclear security and  stopping the spread of nuclear material. Obama, who was in Oslo in December to accept the Nobel Peace Prize, has been actively working towards nuclear disarmament and now, trying to keep nuclear material out of terrorists’ hands.

Stoltenberg spent the weekend in Mexico. where he met with Mexican President Felipe Calderon and held follow-up talks with Mexican officials after the UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen in December.

In Mexico, deforestation topped the agenda. Norway has helped finance measures to stop destruction of important rain forests, and Calderon told newspaper Aftenposten that he views such financing and measures to stop deforestation as critical issues leading into the next UN climate talks in Cancun in November.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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