Arctic discussions and the introduction of the ICELAND Act in the House of Representatives
Two busy weeks at the Embassy of Iceland in Washington DC are coming to an end and we are getting ready for the Holidays. Last week the Ambassador was interviewed by Jeffrey James host and producer at the radio station WAMU/NPR. Jeffrey focused in the interview on questions on climate change and on the Ambassadors career and prior postings. Stay tuned, the interview will be broadcasted in the beginning of next year. For the rest of the week the focus was once again mainly on all matters related to the Arctic. Former president of Iceland, Mr. Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, joined Ambassador Ellertsdottir for a meeting with Representatives Don Young from Alaska and Rick Larsen from Washington State. Mr. Grímsson encouraged the two Congressmen to participate in the Arctic Circle conference in Reykjavík next fall and discussed the common interests of the two countries in the Arctic region. The importance of the strong economic ties between Iceland and the United States was stressed.
Icelandic Parliamentarian, Mr. Ari Trauti Gudmunsson, visited Washington last week with a Nordic delegation of parliamentarians of the Arctic Region. The delegation had a series of meetings with US counterparts in the Senate and House to strengthen cooperation within the framework of Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region. Another Icelandic Parliamentarian, Mrs. Þorgerður Katrín Gunnarsdóttir, was in town the same week for a meeting of the NATO Parliamentarian Assembly on current and future threats to security.
The Embassy staff has had a series of meetings on Capitol Hill in the past weeks to discuss the importance of adding Icelandic citizens to the list of countries eligible for a visa program granting visas to investors and traders from Iceland that are doing business in the United States. This can only be done with a bill amending the legislation in question that has to pass through both houses of the US Congress. Ambassador Ellertsdottir had meetings with Senator Susan Collins from Maine, Representative Debbie Lesko from Arizona and Representative Joe Courtney from Connecticut. Meetings have also taken place with key staffers of many of our strongest allies in Congress. It is with great pleasure that we yesterday received the news that the Iceland Commercial and Economic Leadership for Arctic and National Development (ICELAND) Act was introduced in the House of Representatives. If the Act passes Icelandic citizens will be eligible for E1 (trader) and E2 (investor) visas which will greatly facilitate trade and investment between the two countries.