Politics · May 17, 2021 0

United States & Iceland: Reaffirming Shared Commitments

Washington, DC (STL.News) Ned Price, Department Spokesperson released the following statement:

“I’ll also represent the United States at next month’s ministerial meeting of the Arctic Council, where I’ll reaffirm America’s commitment to meeting our climate goals and encourage other Arctic nations to do the same.”

– Secretary Antony J. Blinken, April 19, 2021

Secretary Blinken is attending the Arctic Council Ministerial in Reykjavik, Iceland, May 17-20, 2021.  During his visit, the Secretary will meet with Icelandic President Gudni Johannesson, Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir, and Foreign Minister Gudlaugur Thor Thordarson to discuss U.S.-Icelandic priorities related to climate change, human rights, bilateral cooperation, and the Arctic.

A Relationship Based on Shared Values and Commitments

  • The U.S.-Icelandic relationship is based firmly on a history of cooperation and mutual support.  The United States was the first country to recognize Iceland’s independence in 1944.  The two countries share a commitment to individual freedom, human rights, and democracy.
  • As partners and Allies, the United States and Iceland work together on a wide range of issues, including ensuring peaceful cooperation in the Arctic and harnessing renewable energy sources.  The United States and Iceland have been North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Allies since 1949, and 2021 marks the 70th anniversary of the signing of the U.S.-Icelandic bilateral defense agreement.  The two countries cooperate as steadfast Allies and partners for peace and prosperity in the Euro-Atlantic area, as well as around the globe.
  • The United States and Iceland hold an annual strategic dialogue to discuss a range of matters pertinent to each country’s national security and to the security of the North Atlantic, including on the Arctic, climate action, human rights, and democracy.
  • The United States and Iceland seek to strengthen bilateral economic and trade relations.  The United States is Iceland’s single largest trading partner and one of the largest foreign investors in Iceland, primarily in the aluminum sector.  The United States and Iceland signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement in 2009 and a memorandum of Economic Cooperation in the fall of 2020.
  • The United States and Iceland share concerns about the global pandemic and seek solutions to reduce the spread of COVID-19.  We must work together to safely restore global travel and trade.

Partnering in the Arctic

  • The United States and Iceland work together closely in the Arctic Council, the premier forum for discussing matters of Arctic governance.  The Arctic Council is made up of the eight Arctic states and six Permanent Participants who represent Arctic indigenous peoples’ organizations.
  • During Iceland’s chairmanship, the Government of Iceland has made significant progress in advancing shared priorities such as climate and clean energy solutions, addressing COVID-19 in the Arctic context, and developing a stronger Arctic Council.  The United States envisions the Arctic region as one that is free of conflict, where nations act responsibly and where economic development and investment takes place in a sustainable, transparent manner that respects the environment and interests and cultures of indigenous communities.

Taking Climate Change Action Together

  • The United States looks forward to working with Iceland to raise the level of global ambition to meet the climate crisis and keep the goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius within reach.  Together with other partners, we are setting our world on a path to a secure, prosperous, and sustainable future.  The United States has announced a new target to achieve a 50-52 percent reduction from 2005 levels in economy-wide net greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, in addition to its goal of a net zero emissions economy no later than 2050.
  • The United States welcomes Iceland’s leadership in tackling the climate crisis, with its goals to achieve carbon neutrality by 2040 and to cut greenhouse gas emissions 55 percent by 2030.  Iceland and the United States enjoy strong cooperation in renewable energy, and renewables make up 85 percent of Iceland’s energy supply.

Strengthening People-to-People Ties

  • There are almost 2,000 exchange alumni from Iceland and more than 600 Americans have visited Iceland on exchanges.  According to the 2020 Open Doors report, 1,286 Americans studied in Iceland in the 2018/19 academic year.  In the 2019/20 academic year, 411 Icelandic students studied at a U.S. college or university.
  • The Fulbright Commission, formally the Iceland-United States Educational Commission, has supported more than 1,500 Icelandic and U.S. students and scholars since Through the Fulbright Arctic Initiative, the Department is stimulating international scientific collaboration in the Arctic region.  Scholars representing all eight Arctic Council member nations, including two from Iceland, investigate topics including energy, the environment, security, health, and infrastructure.  Following two previously successful initiatives, the 2021-22 program continues these efforts, and the United States appreciates the financial contributions and support from the Government of Iceland.
  • Iceland joined the Department’s Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) program in 2020 with a cohort of 25 women.  In 2021, AWE Iceland is doubling in size to 50 women entrepreneurs and expanding beyond Reykjavik to reach more women in northern areas.
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