05:17 GMT23 October 2020
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    The Norwegian Foreign Ministry said Wednesday it had summoned the Russian ambassador to Norway to protest the refusal by Moscow to issue entry visas for several members of a parliamentarian delegation invited to meet with Russian lawmakers.

    STOCKHOLM (Sputnik) — According to a ministry's statement, the summoning followed an official protest note, which had been earlier sent through other diplomatic channels.

    "The Foreign Ministry today summoned the Russian ambassador to repeat the protests," the ministry said.

    The ministry insists that meetings between parliamentarians is an important element of a political dialogue, while the refusal of entry visas is unfounded and unfair.

    "We expressed protest and state that we find the Russian decision unfair and unfounded. We asked the Russian authorities to reconsider the decision and hoped that it will be possible to find a solution, as this concerns an official invitation of a foreign affairs and defense committee head," Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende was quoted as saying in the statement.

    The Norwegian Foreign Ministry knew in advance that several members of a parliamentarian delegation invited to meet with Russian lawmakers in February could be refused a visa, and hoped until the very last moment to settle the issue, Norway's Foreign Minister Borge Brende said Wednesday at a press conference.

    "We have been working on finding a solution from the end of November, and we were hoping to find it until this Monday," Brende said, adding that the visa refusal was "groundless."

    According to Brende, Russia could decide on refusing visa issuing due to sanctions imposed by Norway, among other Western states, in response to "Russia's violations of human rights in Ukraine."

    He added that the Norwegian Foreign Ministry had also summoned the Russian ambassador to Norway to express its protest, adding that the summoning followed an official protest note, which had been earlier sent through other diplomatic channels.

    The Norwegian parliament said earlier on Wednesday that its Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defense delegation has postponed its visit to Moscow after several delegates experienced problems with receiving Russian visas.

    According to Norwegian media, Liberal Party leader Trine Skei Grande and Socialist Left Party member and former Environment Minister Bard Vegar Solhjell were among those who had problems getting a Russian visa.

    Stein Iversen, a section head at the Storting International Department, told Sputnik that the Norwegian side was still planning to again discuss possible opportunities for visiting at a later stage.

    "So we say the visit has been postponed not canceled," he stressed.

    In January, Iversen told Sputnik that the delegation planned to discuss international and bilateral issues between the neighboring countries related to the far north. The delegation was to be headed by committee chairwoman Anniken Huitfeldt, and a meeting with Russia's upper house Foreign Affairs Committee chair Konstantin Kosachev was scheduled. The visit was organized following Kosachev's invitation during June's visit to Oslo.

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