"Look to the future," says White

Barry B. White makes his first trip to Minnesota as U.S. Ambassador to Norway

Photo: Leslee Lane Hoyum Ambassador White is flanked by Wheelock Whitney, father of former Ambassador Ben Whitney (L), and Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Paul H. Anderson (R).

Photo: Leslee Lane Hoyum Ambassador White is flanked by Wheelock Whitney, father of former Ambassador Ben Whitney (L), and Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Paul H. Anderson (R).

By Leslee Lane Hoyum

Rockford, Minn.

For the Norwegian American Weekly

“Minnesota and Norway are positioned to be international leaders,” said recently appointed U.S. Ambassador to Norway Barry B. White, to several hundred Norwegians, Norwegian-Americans, and friends during a welcoming reception in his honor in the Twin Cities. This was the ambassador’s first trip to the United States since taking his new post in Oslo, Norway.

“Minnesota, like Norway,” said Ambassador White, “leads the way on some of the most important issues of our time, including international business relations, human rights, educational exchange and global climate change. These are the areas the administration and I will emphasize. We must look to the future.

“It’s an honor to represent the United States. As you well know, I had a ‘little’ visit from President Obama in December,” chuckled Ambassador White. “I must say that Norwegians were very hospitable to the President and the press said that his Peace Prize acceptance speech was among the best, if not the best, ever delivered. He was commended for his honesty.”

Ambassador White complimented his predecessors, including Ben Whitney, Tom Lofthus and Sydney Rand. He continued by saying that Honorary Norwegian Consul General Walter Mondale told him that as an experienced ambassador, he felt Norway was the best diplomatic post to have in the world.

The ambassador appeared to agree with Mondale by saying that the Norwegian people have been extraordinarily welcoming. He is determined to visit each county in the kingdom. He has made several trips outside Oslo, including to Hammerfest and Stavanger and is very impressed with Norwegians’ knowledge about American and world politics and their command of the English language.

When asked what he felt the biggest similarities and differences were between the United States and Norway, he took pause. “We are both concerned about human rights and our environment. I also appreciate that Norwegians understand the need for increasing educational exchange. We are both involved with and understand the need to help nations in need, whether it is providing financial or medical aid, food or educational opportunities.”

Differences were more difficult for the Ambassador to determine. “Language, of course,” Ambassador White chuckled. “I believe, however, the biggest difference I’ve observed is the election process. In Norway it lasts one month and is much cheaper than at home. That was very interesting.”

During his stay in Minnesota, Ambassador White visited St. Olaf College, Mindekirken, Torske Klubben, the Honorary Norwegian Consulate, and met with a variety of Midwest business and political leaders.

Mr. White was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States to Norway on Sept. 22, 2009.

This article was originally published in the Jan. 22, 2010 issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. For more information about the Norwegian American Weekly or to subscribe, call us toll free (800) 305-0217 or email subscribe@norway.com.

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