Norway has turned down the US request that two Hamas representatives to visit Norway in May should not be received at the Depatment of Foreign Affairs, said reports reaching here from Oslo on Monday.
Norway's Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere confirmed that the United States tried to dissuade Norway from a meeting with Hamas, despite the visit being arranged at the departmental level.
On May 15th two representatives of the Palestinian Hamas party will be received at the Department of Foreign Affairs (UD) by representatives for the department.
The two have been invited to Norway by the Palestinian Committe, a private organization, and Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg has made it clear that the two will not meet any government ministers.
"I believe it is unwise not to have contact with one side in a conflict, the way we do now. If we have demands to make we must also be able to present them in other places than in the newspapers," Stoere told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK).
Stoere said that US pressure to drop the visit came via " diplomatic channels" but that he issued an immediate reply that the visit would take place.
"There is a long tradition in Norway and in the Foreign Ministry for having wide contacts, talking to various organizations and movements. This is a practice we shall continue. The Americans are aware of this and we are sticking to it," Stoere told NRK.
The USA and the European Union have Hamas on their list of terrorist organizations, but Norway follows the United Nations lead,which does not list Hamas as a terrorist organization.
"We know that the USA and the EU have legal obligations since they have Hamas on their terrorist list. We must be able to take an independent decision about contact," the Norwegian foreign minister said.