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Will Brende give Lavrov herring during Moscow talks?

Norway's Foreign Minister Børge Brende speaking at the Barents Council meeting in Tromsø in 2013.

This week U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry presented Russia’s Foreign Minister two potatoes during his visit to Moscow. On Monday, Norway’s Foreign Minister is expected to question Russia’s ban on Norwegian fish.

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With effect from January 1st, Russian food safety authorities banned import of fish from 485 Norwegian companies, or 90 percent of Norway’s registered suppliers to Russia. The agency argues that Norway’s system for quality control is too lax and allows for low-quality fish to enter the Russian market. Allegedly, both salmonella and E. coli bacteria is found in fish imported from Norway.

Moscow’s ban on Norwegian fish is expected to be on the agenda when Foreign Minister Børge Brende on Monday travels to Moscow for bilateral political talks with Sergey Lavrov.

If Brende gives Lavrov some Norwegian herring, it would supplement the two Idaho-potatoes John Kerry gave the Russian Foreign Minister last Monday. Herring and potatoes is an old traditional dinner in both northern Norway and northern Russia.

Norway’s Minister of Fisheries, Elisabeth Aspaker, told NTB earlier this week that Moscow’s ban on import of Norwegian sea-food “is a result of illegal cartel activity and a topic also on political level.”

On Thursday, Norway’s Ambassador in Moscow met with the food safety authorities and discussed Russia’s ban on Norwegian sea-food, the portal of the Foreign Minsitry in Oslo reports.    

Foreign Minister Børge Brende will also meet the State Duma’s Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, representatives of Norwegian businesses in Russia and Human Rights organizations while visiting Moscow. 

This is the first visit Børge Brende makes to Moscow after he took over the Foreign Minister post in October last year.