The new government of the Independence and Progressive parties which was formed last weekend took office yesterday.
According to the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service, RÚV, members of the government said that there were “urgent tasks lying ahead, demanding swift action”. The new Minister for Trade and Trade, Jón Sigurdsson, who left his post as one of three governors of the Central Bank of Iceland to join the government, said that “radical measures” needed to be taken soon on the economic front. According to RÚV, Jón declined to specify what measures needed to be taken and when.
RÚV reports that defense issues will also be given priority. This morning, the new Prime Minister, Geir H. Haarde, and the new Foreign Minister, Valgerdur Sverrisdóttir, met with the Secretary General of NATO, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, who is visiting Iceland.
Morgunbladid quotes the Prime Minister, Geir H. Haarde, saying that the meeting this morning had been “useful”. Among other things, the ministers discussed the ongoing negotations between the US and Iceland concerning the defense of Iceland. Geir will lead the negotiations with the US about the future arrangement of Iceland’s defenses.
(Under the headline “A very exciting assignment”, which quotes a recent comment made by the new Foreign Minister to an Icelandic newspaper, the cartoonist Sigmund depicts Valgerdur Sverrisdóttir in his daily sketch in Morgunbladid today sitting on a small stool under a bright light, draped in a fur and being lectured by the current and outgoing prime ministers: “You can not run for [Progressive] party chairman, and you will have nothing to do with the defense agreement, you will behave.”)
Earlier this year, the US declared it would withdraw the bulk of its military forces from Iceland in a move that has been characterised as a “unilateral breech” of the Iceland-US defense agreement.
According to Morgunbladid, both Geir and the General Secretary agreed that the defense of Iceland should be resolved in bi-lateral negotiations between Iceland and the US. The next meeting is scheduled for July 7.