Trade, security and defence, Arctic issues, international affairs and human rights were the main topics discussed at the meeting of Gudlaugur Thór Thórdarson, Icelandic Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Development Cooperation, and United States Secretary of State, Antony Blinken. Thórdarson and Blinken visited the Hellisheiði geothermal power plant and the Carbfix Project in the afternoon.
Antony Blinken, the US Secretary of State, arrived in Iceland last night and is among those attending the ministerial meeting of the Arctic Council held in Reykjavík later this week. During their meeting in the Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre this morning Minister Thórdarson and Secretary Blinken discussed numerous topics relating to the relations of the two states and their common interests. They noted in particular that this year marks the eighty-year anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Iceland and the United States and agreed that the relationship is stronger than ever before.
“It is telling that the US Secretary of State undertakes such an extensive visit to Iceland. It confirms the commitment of the US towards Arctic issues and their interest in strengthening their relations with Iceland,” said Minister Thórdarson after the meeting.
Security and defence issues were discussed during the meeting and this year marks the seventy-year anniversary of the bilateral Defence Agreement between Iceland and the United States. Trade and economic relations between the states were a focal point as well.
“The United States are our largest and most important market and therefore it was very significant to sense during the meeting the mutual willingness to deepen the trade relationship between our countries even further,” said Foreign Minister Thórdarson. The annual bilateral economic dialogue between Iceland and the United States has been firmly established and hopefully the so-called Iceland bill, which will improve access of Icelandic investors and businesspeople to the US market, will soon be approved in Congress. Secretary Blinken and Minister Thórdarson also agreed on strengthening tourism between the two states once the pandemic is over.
Furthermore, Blinken and Thórdarson discussed the situation in international affairs, not least the conflict in the Middle East. They agreed that the situation is deeply worrying and that steps must be taken to end the spiral of violence and work towards a sustainable solution and peace. Finally, climate issues and common values such as human rights, equality and democracy were discussed.
“The decision of the US Administration to rejoin the Paris Agreement and to fully participate again in the United Nations Human Rights Council is an important statement of support for the multilateral system and I expressed great pleasure with those decisions. These two nations share common values that must be safeguarded as never before and we both agreed to strengthen our cooperation in these matters even further,” said Minister Thórdarson.
Secretary Blinken and Minister Thórdarson held a well-attended press conference after their talks. In the afternoon they went to the Hellisheiði geothermal power plant where they were briefed on the work of ON Power and the Carbfix Project, an innovative solution in the field of carbon sequestration that is very promising.