Ambassador’s Blog: PM Solberg’s Visit to the White House

Signing the guestbook
Signing the guest book at the White House. Photo: Stein J. Bjørge

By Kåre R. Aas, Ambassador of Norway to the United States.

Confirming a Common Platform at the White House

On Jan. 10, 2018, Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg visited President Donald Trump at the White House. Having previously met at the NATO summit in May 2017 and the G20 summit in July, they now had nearly two hours of uninterrupted talks.

The President was supported by a rather top-heavy delegation. In addition to Vice President Mike Pence, it included Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster and National Economic Advisor Gary Cohn.

The dialogue covered a range of topics of mutual interest, particularly related to defense and security cooperation between the two countries, challenges related to global security, and trade and investment. The Prime Minister confirmed that Norway creates around 470,000 jobs in the United States. She also noted that the United States has a trade surplus with Norway, due partially to Norway’s recent purchase of American F-35 fighter jets and P-8 maritime patrol aircrafts.

Both acquisitions strengthen Norway’s contribution to NATO’s collective security. As NATO’s “eyes and ears in the North,” Norway provides unique intelligence, analysis and situational awareness from the sensitive border areas with Russia.

PM Solberg also brought up climate change during the meeting. At a subsequent press conference she pointed out that an American product, Tesla cars, contributes to implementing the Norwegian government’s climate policy. Norway has the highest percentage of Teslas in the world. Nearly half of all new cars sold in Norway 2017 were either hybrid or fully electric (the latter category currently accounting for 28 percent of new-vehicle sales, a number that is increasing by the month). PM Solberg pointed out that the transition to a greener economy in many countries offers new business opportunities.

She continued by asserting that Norway, a country of only 5.2 million people, is a partner to reckon with in the fight against ISIS and international terrorism. In Afghanistan, Norwegian special forces operate seamlessly with American forces.

Summing up the meeting to the media, President Trump praised the collaboration with Norway, including on global security, and referred to robust and growing economic ties between the two countries.

In my opinion, the meeting could not have turned out any better. It was both a confirmation of the current strength of the bonds between our countries and a kickoff for a process of further reinforcing them. The two principals concluded that they share common ambitions and agreed to pursue them together. 

The United States is Norway’s most important ally. At an event at the Brookings Institution earlier the same day, the Prime Minister had outlined Norway’s approach to international affairs, and called for American leadership.

I believe there is still room for an extended cooperation between Norway and the United States. Exciting opportunities exist in a number of areas, including trade, defense, global security, energy and others.

As if to prove this, Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide followed up immediately after the Prime Minister’s departure. Meeting with Secretary of State Tillerson, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, National Security Advisor McMaster and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, she discussed pressing issues of mutual interest such as the Middle East, North Korea, Afghanistan, cooperation in the fight against terrorism and preparations for the next NATO summit.

I look forward to lots of interesting interaction in the time to come. Several of the standing committees of the Norwegian Parliament are scheduled to visit Washington, D.C. in the next few months. And government ministers always seem to be drawn to the corridors of the American capital.

The meeting between PM Solberg and President Trump has given a boost to an already strong relationship.