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Norway says ‘solution’ found in Svalbard cargo dispute with Moscow

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Norway’s foreign ministry said Wednesday that it had found a “solution” to allow Russian cargo, which was blocked due to sanctions, to reach the Arctic Archipelago Svalbard, easing a dispute with Moscow.

The ministry said cargo containers had been blocked since they were transported on Russian vehicles, which were banned from bringing cargo over the border, but now containers would instead be brought using Norwegian vehicles.

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“It is positive that this matter has now found a solution,” the ministry said in a statement.

It added that two containers with supplies were on their way from mainland Norway to Svalbard on a Norwegian ship.

“It’s important to underline that these solutions have existed all along,” Ane Haavardsdatter Lunde, communications director for Norway’s foreign ministry, told AFP.

The ministry said in its statement that Norway had a “good dialogue” with the Russian side throughout the dispute.

Last week Russia’s foreign ministry summoned Norway’s charge d’affaires, accusing Oslo of blocking access to the Svalbard archipelago and threatening retaliation.

On Tuesday, Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker of parliament’s lower house, the State Duma, told lawmakers to consider denouncing a landmark Arctic border treaty with Norway.

In 2010, Russia and Norway signed a treaty on maritime delimitation and cooperation in the Barents Sea and Arctic Ocean, putting to rest a 40-year-old row.

Norway responded by stressing that Oslo and Russia had a “mutual interest” in maintaining the agreement and that the deal did not have a “termination clause.”

Norway has sovereignty over Svalbard but allows citizens of more than 40 countries to exploit the islands’ potentially vast resources on an equal footing.

Moscow has long wanted a bigger say in the archipelago and insists on calling it Spitsbergen rather than the Norwegian Svalbard.

After President Vladimir Putin sent troops to Ukraine in February, the West has hit Russia with several rounds of unprecedented sanctions.

Last week Norway announced nearly a billion euros of aid to Ukraine.

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