Biden invited Støre to the Oval Office for a talk about Russia and the North
Relations with Russia were on the agenda as Jonas Gahr Støre on Thursday visited the White House. The Norwegian premier was originally to meet only National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, but ultimately also got a 20 minutes talk with President Biden.
It was Biden’s first meeting in the White House with a Nordic leader since elected president. It took place as Russia’s military build-up along the border to Ukraine has stirred a tense security situation not seen in Europe in several decades.
According to Støre, the American President and his team wanted to hear about Norway’s relationship with Russia, and especially the way the two countries in 2010 successfully agreed about border delimitation in the Barents Sea.
“During the Cold War, Norway was the only NATO country with a border to Russia, so we talked about both deterrence and reassurance,” he told newspaper VG.
“Biden knows Norway well,” he added.
Norway has a 198 km long land border to Russia and the two countries share extensive waters in the Barents Sea. Støre was instrumental in negotiating maritime border delimitation in the area after several decades of deadlocked talks.
It was seen as a diplomatic triumph for Støre, who at the time served as Norway’s foreign minister. The deal was signed in Murmansk on the 15th of September 2010 by Støre and Russia’s Sergei Lavrov. In the room were also then Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and President Dmitry Medvedev. The two countries agreed to share the disputed 175,000 km2 of waters in two equally big parts.
“I am often - also today - requested to tell about the border delimitation negotiations and our broad contact network with Russia,” Støre told told VG after the talks with President Biden.
NATO-member Norway has a close political and military relationship with the U.S, and the number of American troops training on Norwegian soil has over the past years steadily increased. About 700 U.S Marines are now on a rotating basis based in Norway.
In April 2021, the two countries signed a Supplementary Defence Cooperation Agreement (SDCA) that includes an enhanced U.S. use of so-called Agreed Facilities and Areas. The agreement grants U.S troops exclusive rights to operate in specially designated areas in Norway.
In addition to the troublesome relationship with Russia, Biden and Støre discussed climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the establishment of sustainable health security financing, and humanitarian support for Afghanistan, the White House informs.