Antony Blinken, the United States Secretary of State, is scheduled to arrive in Iceland shortly after 7.00pm tonight, RÚV reports. Though Blinken will be meeting with Icelandic officials during his stay, he will also meet with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who arrives in the country on Wednesday. It is the first meeting of senior Russian and US officials since Joe Biden took office as the 46th President of the United States in January.
Blinken described the purpose of his current trip as “strengthening NATO partnering in the Arctic, confronting the climate crisis, and addressing other global challenges we face.” He is arriving to Iceland from Denmark, where he met with Danish officials as well as Faroese and Greenlandic ministers.
Arctic Council Meets in Harpa
Blinken and Lavrov will both attend the Ministerial Meeting of the Arctic Council later this week, which will take place in Reykjavík on Wednesday and Thursday at Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre. The meeting marks the end of Iceland’s two-year chairmanship of the council. Over a hundred staff members of the National Police Commissioner’s Office and police departments in Southwest Iceland will be on duty from the time Blinken lands until the meeting ends on Thursday evening. Blinken and Lavrov will both be accompanied by large escorts including armed security guards.
Foreign Minister With Strong European Ties
Blinken has held senior positions in foreign policy in two administrations. He served as Deputy Secretary of State and Deputy National Security Advisor under Barack Obama between 2013-2017. He has personal ties to Europe: Blinken lived in Paris for many years and speaks fluent French. He has described Europe as a key diplomatic partner of the US. Global media will undoubtedly be following the meeting between Blinken and Lavrov closely as relations between Russia and the United States have been tense.
The two Foreign Ministers will meet individually with Iceland’s Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir this week. During question period in the Icelandic parliament today, Katrín stated she would discuss the ongoing conflict in Gaza with both Blinken and Lavrov and encourage both states to work internationally to achieve a peaceful solution.