US Defense Minister, James Mattis, praised Norway’s efforts for NATO during his visit to Oslo. He specifically pointed out Norway’s importance to the Alliance in the far North.
Mattis was in the capital on Saturday for meetings with Defence Minister,Frank Bakke-Jensen of Høyre (H) and Foreign Minister,Ine Eriksen Søreide (H).
“The Americans are aware that our commitment to the Armed Forces is the right way to go. They see the same strategic picture as us.There has been too little attention around the North Atlantic in NATO, but both we and the United States are pleased that there is more in this direction,” Søreide told NTB news after the meeting.
Søreide’s comments reflect the statements Mattis made to the press.
He gave Norway praise for holding a leading role in the north and contributing more than the size of the country and population figures would indicate.
“This was a recognition that Norway, because of our geographical location,has not only a special task and a special responsibility in the northern regions, but also special conditions,” said Søreide.
Satisfied with NATO commitment
Mattis gave a warm assurance that Norway has been, and continues to be,an important US ally.
“I am very pleased that the Norwegian government is still committed to NATO’s goal. After the summit, NATO is a stronger alliance than a month ago,and will be even stronger in the future as the increased appropriations give rise to stronger defense capabilities,’’ Mattis said.
Bakke-Jensen also drew attention to the NATO goal of spending 2% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on defence by 2024.
“We are committed to reaching our two-percent target, and in our long-term plan for 2021 to 2024 we will have this commitment as a key prize,” said Bakke-Jensen, in line with what the government had previously announced.
However, the government has so far not put any exact figures on the table.
Norway’s invitation to increase the number of troops from the US Navy Corps in training rotation in Norway was another central theme for Mattis. Norway has opened up to 700 US soldiers to train in Norway, as well as to expand the training area to also apply to Troms.
“We appreciate the flexibility and generosity Norway shows by hosting 700 marines. In addition to the Trident Juncture exercise, we will continue practicing in Norway. This gives a clear signal that the United States and NATO are in partnership with Norway to ensure peace in Europe,’’ Mattis said.
Mattis generally spent a lot of time boasting about the relationship between the United States and Norway, which he expressed was particularly good. He also used the opportunity to honour recently deceased Thorvald Stoltenberg.
“I can not come here today without honouring this giant of world peace,the Secretary General’s father, Thorvald Stoltenberg,” said Mattis.
He added that Thorvald Stoltenberg, through his work as defence minister,foreign minister and in the UN, was a tough figure with a great international reputation.
© NTB scanpix / #Norway Today