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Archive for Norway

Newsline: Norway expels Russian diplomat in spy case

Norway’s Foreign Ministry on Wednesday expelled a Russian diplomat linked to the case of a man jailed on accusations of spying for Russia, officials said. “We have today informed the Russian ambassador that one of his employees is unwanted in Norway and has been asked to leave the country. This is because the person in question has performed actions that are not compatible with his role and status as a diplomat,” Siri R. Svendsen told The Associated Press. (https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/suspected-norway-spy-work-defense-projects-72463642) It was unclear whether the expelled diplomat was the Russian intelligence officer that Norwegian authorities said was meeting with the suspected spy in an Oslo restaurant when he was arrested on Saturday. The accused man has not been officially identified beyond that he is a Norwegian national in his 50s who was born abroad. However, Norwegian broadcaster NRK identified him as Harsharn Singh Tathgar. The man’s employer said Tuesday that he was heading an industry project on 3D printing and had no security clearance and didn’t work on projects for the defense industry, the Norwegian Armed Forces or other governmental agencies. Norway-based DNV GL, a major global classification society for ships, said in a statement the man had not had any line management responsibilities for a number of years. The man was arrested Saturday in a pizza restaurant. On Monday, he was remanded in custody for four weeks. The man has admitted receiving money — a sum that the judge who remanded him in custody said was a “not insignificant amount.” If convicted, he faces a maximum prison term of 15 years. The last time NATO-member Norway declared a Russian diplomat “persona non grata” was in March 2018 when several countries expelled dozens of Russian diplomats after Moscow refused to explain how a Russian-made nerve agent was used on a former spy in Britain. Russia denied the accusations and responded with tit-for-tat expulsions.

Newsline: Trump to Nominate U.S. Ambassador to Norway to Replace Navy Secretary

President Trump announced in a tweet that he will nominate U.S. Ambassador to Norway Kenneth Braithwaite to replace former Navy secretary Richard Spencer. Trump’s tweet came just hours after Spencer was fired by Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who said he “lost confidence” in Spencer after he said Spencer met with White House officials to quietly offer to let a Navy SEAL convicted of war crimes to retire at his current rank. “Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer’s services have been terminated by Secretary of Defense Mark Esper,” Trump said in a tweet. (https://www.thedailybeast.com/kenneth-braithwaite-trump-to-nominate-us-ambassador-to-norway-to-replace-navy-secretary-richard-spencer) “I thank Richard for his service & commitment. Eddie will retire peacefully with all of the honors that he has earned, including his Trident Pin.” The Navy SEAL, Edward Gallagher, was found guilty of posing with a corpse in Iraq in 2017. Trump later restored his rank and has insisted in recent days that Gallagher will get to retire with his Trident pin, despite the White House notifying the Navy on Sunday morning that it would not intervene with the disciplinary action against Gallagher.

Newsline: Pakistan summons Norway’s ambassador over burning of Quran

Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry says it has summoned Norway’s ambassador to convey the deep concern of the government and Pakistani people over the recent burning of Islam’s holy book by a Norwegian man that was caught on video. In a statement, the ministry said: “Such actions hurt the sentiments of 1.3 billion Muslims around the world.” (https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/pakistan-summons-norways-ambassador-burning-quran-67252473) The statement demanded action against the person in the city of Kristiansand who desecrated the Quran at an anti-Islam rally last week. Pakistan’s reaction comes after video surfaced on social media showing a non-Muslim man burning the book. In the video, a Muslim youth is seen jumping over a fence and kicking the person burning the Quran. The incident drew nationwide condemnation, with many Pakistanis praising the youth as a hero for defending the Quran.

Newsline: South Sudan backtracks on embassy shutdowns, set to reopen 4

South Sudan has reversed a decision to close down some of its embassies across the world as the country’s president Salva Kiir on Friday ordered the reopening of four diplomatic missions that were closed some months ago. Kiir quashed a previous directive for the closure of some diplomatic missions and ordered the reopening of three embassies in Europe and one in Asia, information minister Michael Makuei Lueth told reporters after the weekly cabinet meeting. “The president informed the cabinet that he has set aside the order that was made for the closure of some embassies,” Makuie said. (http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2019-08/17/c_138314799.htm) “Those embassies which were closed… another order has been issued reinstating them. These embassies are of Norway, France, Italy and Kuwait… now these embassies will continue to operate,” he added. South Sudan’s foreign ministry announced in May that it was reviewing the status of its 39 embassies and consulates across the world and close some in a bid to reduce operational costs.

Newsline: Norway and Poland to expel diplomats in tit-for-tat exchange

Norway will expel a Polish diplomat who had clashed with local officials after Warsaw declined to recall him, the Norwegian foreign ministry said. Poland said it would expel a Norwegian diplomat in exchange, in a rare spat between the two countries which have strong economic links. Norway had decided to expel Polish consul Slawomir Kowalski because his behavior was not compatible with his diplomatic status, the foreign ministry’s spokeswoman said. She said the ministry had received numerous complaints from officials that the consul has obstructed their work. Norwegian media said Kowalski had been involved in several cases where Polish citizens were disputing decisions by Norwegian child protection services. “This is an extremely unjustified decision,” Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Szymon Szynkowski vel Sek said on Twitter. “The only possible decision in this situation is mutual action, which will be carried out immediately,” he added. Poland’s foreign ministry said in a statement that a Norwegian diplomat had been declared “persona non grata” in Poland, following Norway’s decision. Norway’s foreign ministry was not immediately available for comment (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-norway-poland/norway-and-poland-to-expel-diplomats-in-tit-for-tat-exchange-idUSKCN1Q020B). Poles account for the largest immigrant group in the Nordic country of 5.3 million people, estimated at around 98,000 in 2018, according to Statistics Norway.

Newsline: Norway to close embassy in Azerbaijan, open in Georgia

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway Ine Eriksen Søreide said Oslo plans to open its Embassy in Tbilisi in the course of 2019, Civil.ge reports. Simultaneously, the Norwegian Embassy in Baku will be closed, with Azerbaijan being covered from Norway’s representation in Ankara, Turkey. The Royal Norwegian Embassy has been operating in Baku since 1998, and was also accredited to Georgia. Announcing the move, the Norwegian Foreign Minister said the decision was taken “on the basis of an overall assessment of Norwegian interests and our ties with the countries in the Southern Caucasus.” “Georgia is one of our priority partner countries in the Eurasia region. For many years, it has been following a course of reform, which has brought it closer to European and Euro-Atlantic cooperation structures,” Ine Eriksen Søreide stated.


Newsline: Norway summoned Saudi ambassador over Khashoggi murder

Norway summoned the Saudi ambassador on Thursday over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the Norwegian Foreign Minister said on Friday. “We have raised the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and presented our point of view to the Saudi ambassador several times after it was known,” Ine Eriksen Soereide said in a statement. “We underlined how seriously we take this issue again yesterday, when he was at the Foreign Ministry for a discussion.”


Newsline: Norway summons Iranian ambassador over alleged assassination plot in Denmark

Norway summoned the Iranian ambassador on Thursday over a suspected assassination plot against an Iranian Arab opposition figure in Denmark involving a Norwegian citizen of Iranian background. Denmark said on Tuesday it suspected the Iranian government intelligence service had tried to carry out an assassination on its soil. It is now calling for fresh European Union-wide sanctions against the Islamic Republic. A Norwegian citizen of Iranian background was arrested in Sweden on Oct. 21 in connection with the plot and extradited to Denmark, Swedish security police have said. “During the meeting we underlined that the activity, that has come to light through the investigation in Denmark, is unacceptable,” Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soereide said in a statement.


Newsline: Norwegian Diplomat Tops U.N. Shortlist For Syria Envoy

Geir Pedersen, a veteran Norwegian diplomat who cut his diplomatic teeth 25 years ago as part of the team that secretly negotiated the Oslo Middle East peace accords, has emerged as the front-runner to serve as the next United Nations special envoy for Syria, according to three well-placed diplomatic sources. The revelation comes two days after Staffan de Mistura, an Italian-Swedish dual national and diplomatic troubleshooter, announced to the U.N. Security Council that he would step down at the end of November, opening a vacancy for one of diplomacy’s most thankless jobs. Though the U.N. sought to play a central role early on in resolving the Syrian civil war, in recent years the conflict has largely fallen under the sway of Russia and Iran, which are supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s military onslaught against the dwindling rebel campaign. Like the U.N., the United States and Europe have become increasingly marginalized diplomatic players and have been reluctant to commit funds for Syria’s reconstruction. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have opened their own diplomatic channel, negotiating a buffer zone last month in Idlib Province, one of the rebels’ last holdouts.

Norwegian Diplomat Tops U.N. Shortlist For Syria Envoy

Newsline: Russia summons Norway’s ambassador after spying arrest

The Russian Foreign Ministry summoned Norway’s ambassador to protest against the arrest of a Russian citizen at Oslo airport on suspicion of spying. “We demanded … the immediate lifting of the absurd charges, and his release,” the ministry said in a statement. The ministry gave the name of the arrested man as M.A. Bochkaryov.