The Minister for Foreign Affairs Ossur Skarphedinsson met with Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in a formal meeting today in Oslo, Norway.
During the meeting, both ministers expressed their firm intent to continue to strengthen the co-operation between Russia and Iceland in various fields, with particular emphasis on energy affairs and a partnership on Arctic issues.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs expressed Iceland's position that it should be regarded as a coastal state, since a significant part of its economic zone lies north of the Arctic Circle. Mr. Skarphedinsson also voiced Iceland's opposition to summits between Canada, the United States, Russia, Norway and Denmark taking place outside of the architecture of the Arctic Council.
The ministers agreed that the Arctic Council should be strengthened as a forum for issues regarding the High North.
The foreign ministers also discussed in detail the preparation for an agreement between the two States on a Modernisation Partnership.
Both Mr. Lavrov and Mr. Skarphedinsson placed an emphasis on co-operation in the field of geothermal exploration, especially in regions like Kamchatka where geothermal energy can be harnessed on a large scale. Last week, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin approved a co-operative venture being formed between Icelandic and Russian parties involving the harnessing of geothermal energy on a large scale in Kamchatka, which had been discussed in detail during a visit by Russia's Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko to Iceland last month.
During today's meeting, the Russian foreign minister also emphasised that other areas of Russia are interested in Icelandic technology in this field. The ministers agreed that future co-operation between the two States on geothermal projects could also be extended to third countries.
Mr. Skarphedinsson brought up the possibility of trade in aviation-related services, for which there is growing demand in Russia, and Icelandic business enterprises would be able to supply. It was decided that officials should explore possibilities in this field further at the earliest opportunity.
The Icelandic minister also discussed an agreement with Russia on adoptions, which has been in preparation between the States, and received a positive reaction from his Russian counterpart, who considered such an agreement possible, provided that formalities and technical details would be met.
In addition, the ministers discussed the interaction between Russia and NATO. The Minister for Foreign Affairs reiterated Iceland's position, which has been made public before, that increased interaction with Russia would have a positive effect on security.
The ministers also briefly discussed Russia's bid to join the World Trade Organisation, as the membership negotiations are led by Ambassador Stefan Haukur Johannesson, Chairman of the Working Party for Russia's accession.