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Successful rendezvous with Rice

The Icelandic foreign minister Geir H. Haarde was “pleased” after his meeting with the US secretary of state, Condolezza Rice, according to the Icelandic Broadcasting System, RÚV. Geir and “Condi” met yesterday in Washington, and Geir said afterwards that it was clear after the meeting that both parties wished to pursue the negotiations to a successful conclusion even if it was not guaranteed that a final agreement would be reached in this round.

Earlier in the day, Geir met with deputy secretary of state Nicholas Burns, and after the meeting he was to see Eric Edelman, deputy secretary for defense.

Geir said that both parties had “political will” towards concluding the negotiations in a successful way. He also said that the negotiations were “intense” at the moment.

The negotiation teams are led by Albert Jónsson and ambassador Robert Loftis for Iceland and the US, respectively.

One issue under discussion, according to reports in the Icelandic media, is the presence of a US helicopter rescue squadron at the base at Keflavik. If the squadron departs, Iceland’s air rescue capabilities would be seriously eroded. Georg Lárusson, the chief of the Icelandic Coast Guard, has participated in this last round of negotiations. The foreign minister was scheduled to brief the foreign affairs committee of Althingi this morning at 1100 on latest developments.

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