Prime Minister Halldór Ásgrímsson told news station NFS that he was not very optimistic on the future of US – Iceland defense talks after receiving a reply to a letter he sent President George W.Bush earlier this month. In his letter, Ásgrímsson had asked Bush how the US intended to secure the defenses of Iceland. Bush replied that even though the US planned to substantially reduce the military presence in Iceland, it nevertheless planned to honor the Defense Agreement from 1951.
Ásgrímsson told NFS that not much was new in the President’s reply – he said a defense agreement without defenses was worth little.
Ásgrímsson said that the letter made it clear that the US would honor its defense obligations to Iceland according to the 1951 Defense Agreement. Representatives from the US State and Defense Department’s will arrive in Iceland on Thursday with proposals on how the US plans to defend Iceland in the future.
NFS pointed out that the US delegation will not meet with the Icelandic delegation for long and will depart from Iceland on Friday.
“I have to be honest, in light of what has happened, I am not particularly optimistic about the developments, but of course I respect this letter from the President of the United States,” said Prime Minister Ásgrímsson.
Ásgrímsson continued to say: “There is nothing new in the letter. But the President nevertheless recognizes certain obligations, and we must believe he is meaning what he says, but we will see what there is to it, and you could say that at this point there is little that will surprise us concerning this matter.”
The Prime Minister emphasized that the defense agreement was at stake: “A defense agreement without defenses in the country is worth little.”