Norway Discusses Extension of US Marines' Presence

Norway Discusses Extension of US Marines' Presence

Monday, 16 April, 2018 - 12:15
US Marines arrive in Stjordal, Norway January 16, 2017. NTB Scanpix/Ned Alley/via REUTERS
Oslo- Asharq Al Awsat
Norway's foreign minister said her government was discussing whether to solicit Washington to extend the stay of US Marines in the country, a presence that has irritated neighboring Russia.

Some 330 Marines are scheduled to stay until the end of this year after an initial contingent arrived in January 2017, the first foreign troops to be stationed in the NATO member state since the end of World War Two.

"We are currently in a phase where we are discussing different options, but I think from our point of view it has been very useful and very successful," Reuters quoted Ine Eriksen Soereide in an interview.

"The Americans have been very happy with how things have played out. They do see after many years where they had a lack of winter training and expertise of wintry conditions ... they are now, to a larger extent, able to deal with the cold."

The minister emphasized that Oslo did not view Moscow as a military threat and that the threat of war in the Arctic, NATO's northern flank, was "low".

But she said Oslo saw challenges in the way Russia was developing, not only militarily but also in the areas of civil society, the rule of law and democracy.

The Russian embassy in Oslo told Reuters on Saturday the extension of the presence of US Marines on Norway's soil would worsen its relations with Moscow and could escalate tensions on NATO's northern flank.

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