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Strengthening U.S.-Norway relationship not just about talk, Norwegian ambassador says

Kare Aas, Norwegian ambassador to the U.S., speaks Monday at the UND Center for Innovation on the business relationship his country shares with North Dakota and the U.S. April Baumgarten/ Forum News Service

GRAND FORKS—Fostering relations between countries is the goal of any ambassador to the U.S., but the emissary from Norway said he wants to show the public that what his office is doing is working.

"It's not just talk," Norwegian Ambassador Kare Aas said Monday at the University of North Dakota Center for Innovation in Grand Forks. "It's more about trying to make this as concrete as possible and to take action."

Aas spoke to a room full of state legislators, business leaders and locals, most of whom were of Norwegian descent or had companies based in Norway. He and others were part of an afternoon seminar titled "Norway Creates Jobs in the U.S.," which highlighted two years of research and embassy reports on how many jobs Norwegian companies have created in the States.

Of the nearly 470,000 jobs created by Norway in the U.S., North Dakota has 1,381, while Minnesota has 8,008, according to the study published earlier this year.

North Dakota has a historical and cultural relationship with Norway, Aas said, noting the state has the highest percentage of Norwegian-Americans in the country. It's important to create more opportunities for both Norwegian and American businesses in a bilateral relationship, he said.

"We in the United States want to be the place where people want to invest," U.S. Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., said at the seminar, which has been held in Minneapolis, Houston and Madison, Wis.

Norway also has a strategic advantage to Russia, Aas said. The Nordic country borders Russia, which has become a rising concern in regard to national security.

Cramer said he appreciated how Aas noted the U.S. and Norway stand together in fighting terrorism and guarding against national threats. The congressman called Norway an old friend and ally.

"The old friends are the best," Cramer said. "It is easy to attract new friends when times are good, but you need your old friends when times are tough."

April Baumgarten

April Baumgarten joined the Grand Forks Herald May 19, 2015, and covers crime and education. She grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, where her family raises registered Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at Jamestown (N.D.) College, now known as University of Jamestown. During her time at the college, she worked as a reporter and editor-in-chief for the university's newspaper, The Collegian. Baumgarten previously worked for The Dickinson Press as a city government and energy reporter in 2011 before becoming the editor of the Hazen Star and Center Republican. She then returned to The Press as a news editor, where she helped lead an award-winning newsroom in recording the historical oil boom.

Have a story idea? Contact Baumgarten at 701-780-1248.

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