US Vice President Mike Pence can look forward to a meeting with Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir on his official visit to the country this week, RÚV reports. Katrín was expected to miss Pence due to her attendance at a convention of Nordic trade unions in Malmö, Sweden. This lack of a meeting attracted attention in Iceland and abroad, with some accusing the Icelandic Prime Minister of intentionally shunning the meeting.
Katrín firmly dispelled such rumours in an interview yesterday on Icelandic television. “US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo came here and we had a good meeting earlier this year. Where I actually discussed Artic issues, and climate issues in particular, and my particular concern, nuclear disarmament, which I actually discussed with Donald Trump himself at a NATO meeting last year,” she stated, adding that her approach to international relations has never been to “only speak to those one agrees with, as I wouldn’t speak to many people that way.”
Meetings focus on national security
According to Reuters’ sources, Pence’s meetings with Icelandic officials are expected to be “national-security focused,” with the US Vice President planning to discuss “incursions” into the Arctic Circle by Russia and China. It was revealed recently that the United States Air Force will increase their activities significantly in Iceland, investing in facilities at Keflavík airport for around ISK 7 billion ($56m/€50m). The construction will ensure facilities to operate 18 to 24 fighter jets from Iceland.
Katrín concerned about military presence
Katrín expressed her concern at increased mobilisation in the Arctic in yesterday’s interview. “I worry about this increased mobilisation no matter where it comes from. It’s not just about the United States but also Russia and China because I don’t think this is the way to peaceful relations,” Katrín stated. “It’s a particular concern when the largest threat we face is not of the military kind, rather climate change.”
Katrín and Pence will meet on Wednesday evening. Pence will also meet with President of Iceland Guðni Th. Jóhannesson and Minister for Foreign Affairs Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson during his visit.