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US opening first diplomatic mission above Arctic Circle

The United States plans to open its first diplomatic mission above the Arctic Circle, its northernmost such facility in the world. 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at a press conference Thursday after attending a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Oslo, Norway, that the U.S. will open an “American Presence Post” in the Norwegian city of Tromsø, which is 350 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle. 

The facility is scheduled to open later this year and will be staffed by a single diplomat holding the position of consul. 

“We’re here to work with like-minded allies to advance our vision of a peaceful, stable and cooperative Arctic,” Blinken said before meeting with the Norwegian foreign minister. 

The State Department originally had a diplomatic office in Tromsø until 1994 but closed it down after a reshuffling of diplomatic facilities following the end of the Cold War. 

Blinken said the post is an opportunity for the U.S. to have a “diplomatic footprint” in the Arctic Circle. He said the U.S. has had long-standing bilateral relations with Norway, Sweden and Finland in which they have worked together on a wide range of issues like food security, energy and global health. 

He added that Finland’s recent acceptance into NATO, of which Norway is already a member, and Sweden’s application to join the alliance “strengthens the incredibly strong foundation” they have had. 

“Our entire approach is to make sure that the Arctic remains an area of peaceful cooperation,” Blinken said. “It’s one of the things that, especially in a world that is evermore challenged, that it’s also evermore vital to preserve. And we’re determined to do that.” 

Norwegian Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt said Norway and the U.S. have a “long and proud history” of collaborating on Arctic issues. 

“I welcome U.S. plans to establish a Presence Post in Tromsø this year, which I am sure will further strengthen our close cooperation,” Huitfeldt said. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source: The Hill

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