Norwegian political leaders set aside their campaign differences during the weekend to mount a joint front against what they see as war-mongering and sabre-rattling by the US and North Korea. Last week’s war of words and provocations is deeply worrying Norwegian Foreign Minister Børge Brende, long a staunch ally of the US.
“I’m getting more and more concerned,” Brende told newspaper Aftenposten in response to US Donald Trump’s remarks that US weapons were “loaded” and ready to be used against North Korea, after the isolated dictatorship had sent up another missile of its own capable of reaching US territory.
Brende said he believes North Korea remains responsible for the escalation in tensions because of its repeated missile provocations that have been condemned worldwide. Many Norwegian politicians, however, also view Trump’s rhetoric as dangerous and suggesting a military response they all believe would be catastrophic.
“It is now central that conversations get started between the most important players,” Brende urged. He referred to the UN Security Council’s measures on August 5 that sharpened sanctions against North Korea and block all North Korean exports of coal, iron and lead along with fish and seafood.
Brende’s worries are shared by leaders of all Norway’s political parties, which are otherwise currently locked in an increasingly acrimonious campaign heading into the parliamentary election on September 11. The conflict with North Korea sparked a rare example of agreement among Norwegian leaders who have a strong voice at the UN.
Newspaper Aftenposten reported that Jonas Gahr Støre, leader of the Labour Party and the biggest rival to Brende’s Conservative party, agrees the US-North Korea conflict cannot be solved with military action. “The steadily stronger use of language doesn’t contribute anything positive either,” Støre responded in a short statement. “Norway must work for a diplomatic solution, and for the UN Security Council to continue to handle the conflict.”
Harald Tom Nesvik of the Progess Party, which currently shares government power with the Conservatives, wants both North Korea and the US to dampen their rhetoric. While it’s not unusual coming from North Korea, Nesvik called on the US to rather respond with measures through international organization.
That also brought rare agreement between the Progress Party and the Socialist Left party (SV) on the other end of Norway’s political spectrum. Petter Eide, a candidate for Parliament for SV in Oslo, called for Norway and its European allies to try to pull Trump away from his current military track. Eide also claimed that Norway must not in any way land in a situation where it supports a US attack on North Korea.