POLITICS

US to open northernmost diplomatic post in Norway; only mission above Arctic Circle

Jun 1, 2023, 8:26 AM

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, left, during the meeting with Norwegian Foreign Minister Ann...

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, left, during the meeting with Norwegian Foreign Minister Anniken Scharning Huitfeldt, right, during NATO's informal meeting of foreign ministers in Oslo, Thursday, June 1, 2023. (Lise Aserud/Pool Photo via AP)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(Lise Aserud/Pool Photo via AP)

OSLO, Norway (AP) — The United States will soon open a small diplomatic mission in Norway that will be its northernmost in the world and only such facility above the Arctic Circle, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Thursday.

The move, which Blinken announced at a news conference in Oslo after attending a NATO foreign ministers meeting, comes as competition over the high north’s resources with Russia intensifies.

Blinken said the U.S. would open what is known as an “American Presence Post” in Tromsoe, which sits 350 kilometers (217 miles) north of the Arctic Circle. The post will open later this year and be staffed by a single U.S. diplomat with the title of “consul.”

“We’re here to work with like-minded allies to advance our vision of a peaceful, stable and cooperative Arctic,” Blinken said before meeting Norway’s foreign minister whose country is preparing to assume the chairmanship of the Arctic Council, which is headquartered in Tromsoe.

Norway will take over the eight-nation grouping of countries that border the Arctic after two years of Russian leadership during which the bloc was largely ignored by other members due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The State Department had maintained an office in Tromsoe until 1994 but it was shuttered in a re-alignment of diplomatic facilities after the end of the Cold War.

“The United States is a proud Arctic state and takes seriously our role as one of the region’s stewards,” U.S. Ambassador to Norway Marc Nathanson said in a statement.

Norwegian Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt said Norway and the U.S. share a “long and proud history” of collaboration on Arctic issues.

“I welcome U.S. plans to establish a Presence Post in Tromsoe this year, which I am sure will further strengthen our close cooperation,” she said.

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