US embassy cable - 06OSLO59


Identifier: 06OSLO59
Wikileaks: View 06OSLO59 at
Origin: Embassy Oslo
Created: 2006-01-17 10:37:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L  OSLO 000059 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/13/2016 
REF: STATE 5477 
Classified By: Ambassador Benson K. Whitney, reason 1.4 and d. 
1.  (C)  Summary.  In the Ambassador's introductory call on 
Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere January 13, the FM said 
that maintaining close ties to the United States was a top 
priority and noted that the U.S. is "Norway's most important 
ally."  FM Stoere is keen to promote even closer cooperation 
on "High North" issues and hopes that the Secretary will 
accept his invitation to visit Norway's north, perhaps in 
conjunction with her trip to the Sofia NATO Ministerial. 
2.  (C)  FM Stoere brought up the unfortunate comments of 
Finance Minister Halvorsen (leader of the Socialist Left 
party) regarding boycotting Israel, and noted his immediate 
effort to set the record straight -- hence his letter to the 
Secretary making it clear that there was no change in 
Norway's policy towards Israel, nor will there be.  On Iran, 
Stoere said he will meet El Baradei on January 17 and that 
while he understood the need for the IAEA to refer the matter 
to the UNSC, Stoere worries that the UNSC will not take 
action and that we will have another situation like North 
Korea.  Finally, Stoere raised Guantanamo, making clear that 
while it is an issue of concern for most Norwegians, he does 
not want to be confrontational.  Stoere said that Norway's 
position is not/not that we should close Guantanamo but 
rather that detainees should be afforded the same rights as 
POWs under the Geneva Convention.  End Summary. 
FM Stoere Stresses Importance of Relationship with U.S. 
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3.  (C)  The Ambassador had a pleasant, productive, hour-long 
first meeting with Foreign Minister Stoere January 13, only 
one day after presenting his credentials to the King.  FM 
Stoere said he wants to maintain close ties with the United 
States and stressed we are "Norway's most important ally." 
The Foreign Minister noted that while most choose to focus on 
political issues, it is the depth of the relationship, 
including the vibrant cultural, educational, science fields, 
that keeps our nations bonded together. 
4.  (C)  The Foreign Minister noted that it is a change for 
the far left Socialist Left party to be included in 
government but that one needs to understand that the 
Socialist Left party has come a long way as it now accepts 
NATO and the Transatlantic link as an pillar of Norwegian 
foreign policy.  "We have come a long way since the 1950s, 
when SV was founded in protest to the Alliance," the FM 
remarked.  That said, the FM acknowledged that there will be 
moments of heartburn, as with (Socialist Left) Finance 
Minister Halvorsen's comment, that she ended up retracting, 
that she supports a boycott of Israel.  The Foreign Minister 
emphasized that he worked immediately and intensively as soon 
as he heard the remark to set the record straight -- hence 
the letters to Secretary Rice and FM Shalom.  The Ambassador 
noted that we appreciated the Minister's quick response and 
unequivocal reaffirmation that Norway does not, and will not, 
support a boycott of Israel.  Additionally, the Ambassador 
expressed appreciation for the Foreign Minister's commitment 
to preserving strong bilateral ties and pledged to do his 
part to work to advance common objectives. 
5.  (C)  The Ambassador took the opportunity to thank the 
Minister for his support on the Embassy's efforts to relocate 
to a new, more secure site.  The FM remarked that the city 
council vote to approve the move was indeed dramatic but "all 
is well that ends well."  The FM encouraged the Embassy to 
reach out to the community in Huseby (site of the NEC) and 
ensure that it feels that the Embassy will be a good neighbor. 
FM Keen to have the Secretary Visit Norway's High North 
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6.  (C)  FM Stoere suggested that the U.S. and Norway could 
further strengthen their cooperation by engaging in a 
meaningful dialogue about High North (i.e., Arctic issues, 
including energy, environment and non-proliferation) and 
hoped that the Secretary would soon accept his invitation to 
visit northern Norway.  The FM thought that perhaps the 
Secretary could visit in connection with her upcoming trip to 
the NATO Ministerial in April and he will be putting together 
some concrete dates and thoughts on a possible program for 
the Secretary.  The Foreign Minister also mentioned that he 
had discussed with U/S Burns the possibility of a high-level 
session on the high north in Washington sometime in the next 
few months.  The Ambassador noted that the United States is 
also interested in deepening the dialogue on the high north. 
In fact, the Ambassador will make his first trip outside Oslo 
to visit the Norway's northernmost region at the end of this 
Guantanamo - Under Pressure, FM Raises it in Low-key Way 
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7.  (C)  With the Socialist Left party and local chapter of 
Amnesty International calling for the government to urge us 
to close down Guantanamo, the Foreign Minister raised 
concerns about the limited rights afforded detainees.  The FM 
made clear that while this is a hot-button issue for most 
Norwegians, the government will not/not join calls for 
Guantanamo's closure.  "The U.S. has a right to hold people 
who are terrorists and a threat to its national security," 
the FM said, but in his view U.S. interests would be better 
served if the detainees were treated as POWs under the Geneva 
convention.  "No one is outside the law," he remarked. 
Stoere then said that he plans to present us with the legal 
and political arguments for why this is the case. 
Referring Iran to the UNSC - Norway Open, But Not There Yet 
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8.  (C)  Per reftel, the Ambassador urged Norway to support 
an emergency IAEA Board of Governors' meeting to vote 
affirmatively to report Iran to the UNSC.  The Minister noted 
that they had called in the Iranian Ambassador prior to the 
EU-3 announcement and made clear Norway's deep concerns about 
Iran's resumption of its uranium enrichment research.  The FM 
has publicly acknowledged that while Norway supports efforts 
to find a diplomatic solution, "this latest development makes 
this more difficult and brings the matter one step closer to 
the UNSC."  Stoere, though, remained committed to trying to 
find a diplomatic solution and worried that if the matter is 
referred to the UNSC it will meet the same fate as North 
Korea -- and "simply sit in the UNSC's in-box."  Stoere also 
expressed concern that the current devolving situation could 
lead to a military option and that therefore it was 
imperative that this be managed wisely.  Stoere said he will 
be meeting with DG ElBaradei in Vienna on January 17.  The 
Ambassador stressed that it was essential that the 
international community continue to press Iran. 
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9.  (C) Foreign Minister Stoere was engaging and keen to 
highlight the premium he places on the bilateral relationship 
with the U.S., as usual.  Stoere's actions also match his 
words.  He was quick and aggressive in making Norway's 
position on Israel clear and his efforts resulted in getting 
Finance Minister Halvorsen to apologize for her statement. 
Stoere also supported the Embassy's move with a timely letter 
to the City Council, even though it was politically dicey to 
do so.  And, by meeting the Ambassador, as soon as he 
presented his credentials, Stoere was signaling that he is 
eager to develop a close partnership with the United States. 
Stoere is the one shining light in the Stoltenberg cabinet, 
and the more we can do to enhance his standing within the 
government, the better.  A visit by the Secretary would be 
the ultimate feather in his cap; we hope it becomes possible. 
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