Trade, Arctic and security and defense were among the topics discussed at a lunch meeting between Gudlaugur Thór Thórdarson, Foreign Minister of Iceland, and Michael Pompeo, US Secretary of State, in Reykjavik today. Pompeo also paid a courtesy visit to Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir where they discussed climate change, nuclear disarmament, Arctic affairs and bilateral relations.
Secretary Pompeo visited Iceland today at the invitation of Minister Thórdarson. At their meeting, which took place at Harpa, it was decided to establish an annual Economic Dialogue between Iceland and the United States, involving public and private sectors, with the aim of further enhancing bilateral trade and investment between the two countries.
"This is a very important milestone, in line with Iceland's policy of strengthening our business relations with the United States. They are our largest and most important single market, as the annual total trade between the two states in goods and services amounts to around USD 3 billion. I expect the economic dialogue to result in real progress and the involvement of the private sector will be key to success, "says Gudlaugur Thór.
The ministers also discussed human rights and Arctic affairs, as Iceland will take over the presidency of the Arctic Council in May. In addition, they discussed security issues in to the context of developments in the Arctic due to climate change.
"Iceland and the United States are partners in the Arctic Council and agree to continue to pursue sustainable development and stability in the Arctic. The Arctic ocean is a unifying factor and ocean affairs will be one of Iceland's priorities in our presidency. We expect to benefit from co-operation with the United States and other members of the Arctic Council. We are also faced with various challenges, including search and rescue, which countries must coordinate in the Arctic is vast with limited infrastructure," says Gudlaugur Thór.
The Ministers discussed their cooperation within NATO now that Alliance will celebrate its seventieth anniversary in Washington in April. They also discussed bilateral security and defense co-operation, which has increased in recent years in line with the changing security environment in Europe and the North Atlantic.
"Our two countries share a long and successful history of security and defense cooperation. We sense that Iceland's growing civilian contribution to NATO is highly valued within the Alliance and in Washington. Iceland will continue to be a trustworthy and credible ally – as it has in the past 70 years," says Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson.After the working lunch, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Prime Minister of Iceland, welcomed the US Secretary of State at the Government Guest House. They discussed climate change and the decision of the United States to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, which the Prime Minister said had been a disappointment to her. She encouraged the government of the United States to actively participate in the fight against climate change.
Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir: “In order to make progress in the fight against climate change, we need all states to participate in climate action. We are at a point where we must act. I encouraged Secretary Pompeo to participate in our efforts.”
The Prime Minister also conveyed her concern about the state of nuclear disarmament and the suspension of the INF and emphasized the importance of preventing another nuclear arms race. She reiterated that according to Iceland’s national security policy, Iceland should be free from nuclear weapons, subject to Iceland’s international commitments.
At the end of his visit, Pompeo got a tour of the Icelandic Coast Guard operation in the security area at Keflavik Air Base.