The Icelandic and British prime ministers Geir H. Haarde and Gordon Brown met in London yesterday, discussing subjects like the situation in international financial markets and a defense agreement between Iceland and Britain.
“I believe the conclusion of the meeting was that they want to finish this matter [the defense agreement] and possibly it can be taken care of when the foreign minister [Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir] comes to London after a few weeks,” Haarde told Fréttabladid.
The potential agreement includes provisions that Britain will be responsible for Iceland’s defenses during peacetime and that Britain participates in NATO’s air space observation around Iceland.
NATO’s organized air space observation around Iceland begins next month when the crew of four French fighter jets will come to Iceland for supervision and military exercises. Other nations will follow and Haarde said Brown had been very positive about participating in the project.
In regards to the financial situation in world markets, Haarde said his discussion with Brown had been free-spoken and useful. “I told him how we look at the situation and the fact that despite fluctuations all the basic points are in order, both at the state and at the banks.”
Energy and environmental issues were also discussed at the meeting, the Hatton Rockall continental shelf (to which both Iceland and Britain, along with other nations, claim rights to), EU membership issues, and Iceland’s application for a seat on the UN Security Council. Brown also emphasized Britain’s opposition to Iceland’s whale hunting.
At the meeting, the prime ministers exchanged books. Haarde gave Brown Silence of the Grave by famous Icelandic crime author Arnaldur Indridason, while Brown gave Haarde a book by himself, Courage: Eight Portraits, in which Brown, as an historian, describes the different lives of eight individuals to explore the concept of courage.