The trip included stops in Oslo, Bodø and Tromsø on the Norwegian mainland. For many, the definitive highlight was a three-day visit to the Spitsbergen Archipelago, located at 78 degrees north (!). In addition to receiving briefings in the capital, Longyearbyen, the group was taken on a helicopter trip to New Ålesund to view the international research station.
In Tromsø, a visit was made to the Polar Institute and the planned Secretariat for the Arctic Council. In Bodø, the group was fortunate enough to be able to join the Norwegian Coast Guard on a short mission off the coast, and visited the Norwegian Armed Forces Joint Operational Headquarters at Reitan outside of Bodø.
The time in Oslo was spent meeting with the Norwegian Minister of Defense, Mr. Espen Barth Eide, and the Chairwoman of the Standing Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs Committee, Ms. Ine Marie Eriksen Søreide. Meetings were also held with Norway's primary oil company, Statoil, and head of the think tank Fridtjof Nansen Institute to share views on the changes taking place in the Arctic region. Additionally, the group met with high-level representatives from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Oil and Energy, and the environmental organization Bellona. The U.S. Ambassador to Norway, H.E. Ambassador Barry White, invited the group to his residence to wrap up the week.
The weather was unusually cooperative on this year’s trip, and the full length of Norway was at its most beautiful and majestic for the whole week. NAPEP serves as an important tool to increase mutual understanding regarding key issues such as energy, climate change and national security. The program fosters stronger bilateral relations between Norway and the United States. In a rapidly changing world, this partnership is more important than ever.