Sand­berg feels heat over Iran trip

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PO­LIT­I­CAL pres­sure is pil­ing up on Nor­way’s fish­eries min­is­ter, Per Sand­berg, over his re­cent hol­i­day to Iran with a for­mer Ira­nian beauty queen.

Nor­we­gian prime min­is­ter Erna Sol­berg said that she had spo­ken to Sadnberg and al­though there may have been a breach of reg­u­la­tions, she had full con­fi­dence in her min­is­ter.

But the is­sue was de­bated in the Stort­ing, Nor­way’s par­lia­ment, ear­lier this month, with prob­ing ques­tions from Sand­berg’s po­lit­i­cal op­po­nents on the left over what is be­com­ing the most talked about hol­i­day in Nor­way this sum­mer.

Sand­berg flew out with Ba­hareh Letnes, a for­mer Miss Iran who now runs a seafood ex­port busi­ness. He has con­firmed to the Nor­we­gian me­dia that he is in a re­la­tion­ship with the woman, who orig­i­nally came to Nor­way as an asy­lum seeker but had her ap­pli­ca­tion re­jected at least twice be­fore be­ing fi­nally ac­cepted by Oslo.

How­ever, the is­sue has more to do with the coun­try he vis­ited, and whether he fol­lowed the cor­rect pro­ce­dures, than his trav­el­ling com­pan­ion.

The salmon in­dus­try is wor­ried the in­ci­dent could even­tu­ally af­fect Nor­way’s six bil­lion kro­ner ex­ports to the United States, its fourth largest mar­ket, par­tic­u­larly af­ter Don­ald Trump’s warn­ing that any­one trad­ing with Iran would not be do­ing busi­ness with the US.

Geir Pollestad, chair­man of the Nor­we­gian Food Com­mit­tee at the Stort­ing, told the news­pa­per Dag­bladet that vis­its like Sand­berg’s do not go un­no­ticed in the United States.

On the po­lit­i­cal front, the de­bate is over whether Sand­berg prop­erly no­ti­fied the prime min­is­ter and his own de­part­ment be­fore his trip. Ac­cord­ing to the rules, min­is­ters must let Oslo know where they can be con­tacted at all times.

He main­tains that he did every­thing cor­rectly, adding that the mes­sage may not have been sent un­til af­ter he left as his hol­i­day des- tina­tion was changed at short no­tice - hence the reg­u­la­tions breach.

Sol­berg has said that she had known about his re­la­tion­ship with the Ira­nian and the fact that he had sep­a­rated from his wife.

Labour Party mem­ber Terje Aasland, who said he is not sat­is­fied with ear­lier ex­pla­na­tions, raised con­cerns about the pos­si­ble po­lit­i­cal im­pli­ca­tions of vis­it­ing a coun­try with a poor hu­man rights record.

Above: Per Sand­berg

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