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Norwegian foreign minister to discuss Russia-NATO ties in Moscow


MOSCOW, March 23 (RIA Novosti) - Russia-NATO relations, bilateral ties and the future of the Arctic will be discussed at a meeting between the Russian and Norwegian foreign ministers this week, a foreign ministry spokesman said on Monday.

Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere is due to pay a visit to Moscow on March 24-25 during which he will meet with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov. The sides are also expected to discuss the European security pact, which was put forward by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in June 2008, Andrei Nesterenko said.

Russian-Norwegian bilateral relations and prospects for further economic and political cooperation, as well as energy, fishery and environmental issues will also be on the agenda at the talks.

The discussion will focus on the controversial Arctic Ocean archipelago of Spitsbergen, which belongs to Norway, although Russia does not recognize Norway's exclusive right to the 200-mile economic zone.

"Special attention will be paid to incidents of Russian ships being seized by Norwegian Coast Guards for insignificant violations," Nesterenko said, adding "Russia is interested in raising the effectiveness and diversification of its presence in Spitsbergen and would like constructive cooperation with Norway."

The discussion on the Arctic is planned to continue on April 28-29 during a session of the Arctic Council in Tromso. The polar region has lately become the subject of increased scrutiny by Arctic Circle countries because of potential competition for its natural resources.

And on May 5-6 the Russian-Norwegian intergovernmental commission on trade, economic, scientific and technical cooperation will meet to discuss a wide range of economic and trade issues.

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