Arkhangelsk: Norwegian Foreign Minister Børge Brende is in Arkhangelsk. Just before 10 a.m. local time he was let through the security control of the gigantic Arctic conference "Arctic – Territory of Dialogue". Børge Brende will meet with his Russian colleague Sergej Lavrov this afternoon.
It will be the first time in three years that a Norwegian and a Russian foreign minister meet each other.
- I think this is a good time to meet. I was invited, and a meeting was important for Lavrov too. We had to have an agenda and substance to be able to meet, Børge Brende says.
Lavrov and Brende meet at 18:00 hrs this afternoon, and according to Brende, this is the only bilateral meeting, i.e. country-to-country, to which Lavrov has invited.
Later tonight, Børge Brende will attend a dinner together with Sergej Lavrov. The Icelandic and the Danish foreign ministers will also attend this dinner.
- The dinner is also meant to facilitate talking about the difficult issues too, amongst others Ukraine and Syria, Brende says.
The meeting between the Norwegian and the Russian foreign ministers is meant to discuss various forms of cooperation.
- What has been important for us is to continue the parts of the bilateral cooperation that are not subject to restrictions. This cooperation has continued, and in some areas even grown. In the conversation with Lavrov this afternoon we want to summarize the results of that cooperation and look at how we can strengthen it.
- I participate here based on our considering it to be in the best interest of Norway. That is my job, says Børge Brende. He refers to joint borders, joint fishery resources and clearing of nuclear waste, among others.
As for the High North in particular, which is the conference theme, Brende also points to shared interests with Russia.
- Together we share an interest in protection and use. Russia argues that the North and the Arctic should not be turned into a national park. I do see us having some joint views there.
After a brief round with the press, the foreign minister entered the lectern as part of the conference's opening ceremony.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is also expected at the conference later tonight or tomorrow morning.