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Hitt og þetta 7. júlí 2006

(IFN) US and Iceland continue defense talks

Reykjavik (IFN) US and Icelandic officials met Friday in their third round of talks on defense arrangements for the North Atlantic nation after the withdrawal of U.S. aircraft.

The US, which has been responsible for Iceland's defense since 1951 under a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation agreement, announced in September that it would end its permanent military presence and withdraw its four F-15 fighter jets, helicopters and US personnel from the Naval air station at Keflavik.

The agenda for Friday's talks wasn't announced, nor have officials said anything about progress in the two previous rounds.

Ambassador Carol van Voorst and Assistant Secretary of Defense Thomas Hall lead the U.S. team.

The Icelandic delegation is led by Ambassador Albert Jonsson, foreign policy adviser to Prime Minister Geir H. Haarde.

US helicopters are scheduled to leave in September, but no date has been announced for removing the F-15s.

Businesses and services at the air station have been closing this summer. Just under 1,000 US military personnel are still stationed in Iceland, down from between 1,100 and 1,200 in March. Only 500 are expected to remain by the end of July.

Some 528 Icelanders are still employed at the air station, down from just under 600 in March. Their contracts will be honored through September, US officials said.

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Source: Dow Jones Newswires

Icelandic Financial News (IFN) is available on Factiva, a joint venture between Reuters and Dow Jones Newswires, FT.COM, LexisNexis, Comtex, Gale and Thomson via the Nordic Business Report.