Diplomatic shuffle may include Solheim

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Two of Norway’s most important ambassador posts, in Washington DC and Moscow, will be opening up this summer as part of routine moves within the Norwegian diplomatic corps. Former government minister Erik Solheim is among those likely to have another stab at an overseas posting, when 14 new ambassadors are named later this year.

Erik Solheim remains a candidate for a new top job within the Foreign Ministry, where he currently a "special adviser" after being replaced as cabinet minister earlier this year. PHOTO: Utenriksdepartementet

Norway’s embassies in the US and Russia are often filled by career diplomats but sometimes top politicians are tapped as well. The current ambassador to the US, Wegger Christian Strømmen, has been both, as was his predecessor Knut Vollebæk. Now, reports newspaper Aftenposten, Strømmen’s term is coming up, as is that of Norway’s ambassador to Russia, Knut Hauge.

Another attractive posting is Norway’s consul general in New York. Top candidates for Washington include Norway’s former ambassador to NATO Kai Eide, who also was the UN’s Special Envoy to Afghanistan. Norway’s former ambassador to the UN and career diplomat Mona Juul is also considered a candidate.

Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre can also call upon available politicians with foreign policy experience. Such appointments also are known to occur across party lines, like when former Foreign Minister Jan Pedersen of the Conservatives was named ambassador in Vienna, or when Bjørn Tore Godal of Labour went to Germany.

Other ambassador posts are opening up in Kenya, Zimbabwe and Mexico, and that’s where Solheim comes in. In addition to being Norway’s environmental minister he also was minister in charge of foreign aid. He’s keen on development issues and may be a top candidate after losing his bid to be Norway’s new ambassador to the UN in New York.

Norway will also be sending a top secretary assigned to the embassy in Bangkok to Myanmar (Burma), as the once-isolated country continues to undergo reform. Norway has upgraded its diplomatic relations with Burma and has its own representative office in the country.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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