All smiles after their first session

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All four leaders of the non-socialist parties trying to form a new government in Norway emerged from their first round of preliminary talks on Monday with smiles and at least two agreements in hand: Erna Solberg of the Conservative Party is indeed their candidate for prime minister, and they’ll continue to meet for more talks.

Erna Solberg (second from right) could confirm that she's the candidate for prime minister for a new non-socialist government coalition. Talks on a new government platform will also continue with (from left) Trine Skei Grande of the Liberal Party, Knut Arild Hareide of the Christian Democrats and Siv Jensen of the Progress Party. PHOTO: NRK screen grab/newsinenglish.no

Erna Solberg (second from right) could confirm that she’s the candidate for prime minister for a new non-socialist government coalition. Talks on a new government platform will also continue with (from left) Trine Skei Grande of the Liberal Party, Knut Arild Hareide of the Christian Democrats and Siv Jensen of the Progress Party. PHOTO: NRK screen grab/newsinenglish.no

Solberg herself seemed calm and collected when meeting reporters after the first session of talks at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Oslo’s Nydalen district. No firm pacts were reached, but she said she thought the mood was “very good” and it was positive that they’ll now “go futher” with their early meetings to listen to one another and see “where the ground lies.”

Knut Arild Hareide of the Christian Democrats, who’s been the most skeptical that his party could form a government with the Progress Party, was smiling as much as the others. He said he though the talks got off to “a very good start” and that there’s “a good foundation” to keep talking.

Trine Skei Grande of the Liberal Party said she thought it was “fantastic” to get underway and that “the big issues are on the table.” Siv Jensen of the Progress Party was also smiling, noting that nothing would be easy but there was all reason to be positive.

“We have a mandate from the voters for a change of government (from the current left-center coalition that’s ruled for the past eight years to a non-socialist coalition for the next four years ahead),” Grande said, adding that the four party leaders backed by two top aides each would do their best to achieve that.

Their short meeting with the media to deliver a progress report of sorts was perhaps most a means of marking that everyone was positive and intent on moving forward. They seemed at least as engaged in the issues that unite them as in those that divide them, noted one commentator for Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK).

Meetings were due to continue through this week, at which point it should emerge which parties will move on to actual negotiations over issues in an effort to form a government platform. The substance of their talks is to be held confidential until a platform is ready, probably in early October.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund