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Volume 978: debated on Tuesday 12 February 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will discuss with his Norwegian counterpart the Russian presence in Spitzbergen in the context of the United Kingdom's NATO responsibilities.

I propose to visit Norway at the invitation of the Norwegian Defence Minister later this year. The detailed arrangements have not been made, but we shall discuss matters of common concern to the defence of our two countries.Spitzbergen is demilitarised by the Treaty of Paris of 1920, which recognises Norwegian sovereignty and also allows the Soviet Union, in common with all the Treaty signatories, freedom of access to carry out commercial and economic activities. The Soviet Union currently operates two coalmines in Spitzbergen.