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Ambassador downplays PST leak

Intelligence chief Janne Kristiansen’s leak of classified information about Norwegian intelligence agents in Pakistan seemed to be taken in stride by Pakistan’s ambassador to Norway on Thursday. He headed to the Foreign Ministry for a crisis meeting, though, just hours after Kristiansen abruptly left her post.

Kristiansen resigned under fire after all but admitting that Norway has intelligence agents in Pakistan. She was among a series of Norwegian officials who were called into the Parliament on Wednesday, to answer questions from a special parliamentary committee probing the July 22 terrorist attacks last summer.

‘Representation’ in Pakistan
While answering a Member of Parliament’s specific question related to terrorism, Kristiansen said PST had no “official cooperation” with Pakistan but had close cooperation with the Norwegian military’s intelligence service known as E-tjenesten, which did have “representation” in Pakistan.

That was viewed as a violation of PST’s own confidentiality rules, a punishable offense under the law, and Kristiansen turned in her resignation around midnight. It was immediately accepted by Justice Minister Grete Faremo and now Kristiansen’s blunder is also under investigation.

Pakistan’s Ambassador to Norway, Ishtiaq Andrabi, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that the situation, however, was “not extraordinary.” He also said he had “a good meeting” with officials at the Foreign Ministry (Utenriksdepartementet, UD).

Asked whether relations between Norway and Pakistan had been damaged, the ambassador replied that “Norway and Pakistan have a good and tight cooperation,” and that Kristiansen’s remarks wouldn’t hurt it.

Wanted clarification
He said he sought the meeting at the ministry to clarify both Kristiansen’s comments and the situation itself. Neither he nor ministry officials would go into detail about their talks. A ministry spokesman, however, said the “we haven’t had any indications that Norwegian interests or Norwegian citizens in Pakistan will  be threatened as a result of (Kristiansen’s) remarks.”

Norway’s ambassador in Pakistan was called in to the foreign ministry in Islamabad, but that meeting was also said to have confirmed that “this won’t have an impact on our relationship.” A spokesman for the Pakistani ministry said there was nothing unusual about intelligence cooperation between Pakistan and Norway and that it would continue.

“We have common interests to battle terrorism and violent extremism,” the spokesman told NRK.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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