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Hitt og þetta 4. febrúar 2006

DJ Future Of US Navy Base In Iceland Talks Continue-State Dept

WASHINGTON (AP)--Talks on the future of a strategic U.S. naval installation in Iceland are continuing, U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Thursday.

McCormack refused to deal in specifics of the talks about the U.S. Naval Air Station in Keflavik, which have been going on for years.

"I expect that those discussions will continue, and it takes place in the context of guaranteeing our common defense interests and how both our countries can appropriately share the burden of that common defense," McCormack said.

The U.S. expects the air station's future will be in a defense arrangement "appropriate to the security demands of the 21st century."

"Our view is that the United States is committed to the common defense and to our obligations under the 1951 defense agreement," McCormack said.

The U.S. goal also "is to ensure that the manner in which we carry out our defense relationship with Iceland is appropriate to the security demands of the 21st century," he said.

In Reykjavik, Iceland's capital, Foreign Minister Geir Haarde reportedly told the Althingi, the Icelandic parliament, that he suggested during a visit to Washington this week a solution that would leave the U.S. part of the installation for fighter aircraft. Iceland would take over the civil aviation part of the airport and parts of the search and rescue operations.

The U.S. military presence in Iceland dates from 1941, when Iceland, the U.S. and the U.K. agreed that U.S. Marines would replace a U.K. garrison there.

Iceland, which had no armed forces, was a charter member in 1949 of the Cold War North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Two years later, the alliance asked Iceland to sign a separate defense agreement with the U.S., which created the Iceland Defense Force.

The Keflavik air station was a major North Atlantic presence for NATO for four decades, until the Soviet Union dissolved.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires