Israeli Prime Minister visits Norway amid police concerns of possible violent protests

Published July 16th, 2003 - 02:00 GMT

Israel’s Prime Minister Ariel Sharon landed in the Norwegian town of Molde Wednesday, for talks with his 

Norwegian counterpart, Kjell Magne Bondevik, on the prospects for a Middle East peace.  


Local police officials prepared for angry street protests, and even had contingency plans to turn the town's prison into a makeshift prison for anyone arrested.  


Sharon arrived in Molde from London where he held talks with Prime Minister Tony Blair and other British leaders.  


The Israeli Prime Minister’s visit provoked widespread protests in Norway when it was announced. The Norwegian 

government struck back by saying the controversial Israeli leader's critics risked hindering efforts to bring peace to the region.  


Molde was chosen as the location for the meeting both because it is Bondevik's hometown and because it is some 250 kilometers north of the Norwegian capital of Oslo, where officials feared mass demonstrations against Sharon could be staged, DPA reported.  


Bondevik had also invited Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas to the talks, but there was no indication he would attend.  


Meanwhile, local people in Molde were upset because Sharon's visit coincides with the town's international jazz festival, which draws thousands of fans from all over Europe.  


Local police said they were prepared to tackle any illegal demonstrations or violent clashes, while allowing peaceful manifestations to take place without undue hindrance.  


"The police forces are doing everything in their power to make sure that Sharon's visit is carried out in a dignified, secure fashion, without undue oppressive security measures in the city of Molde as a whole," said Police Chief Arnstein Nilssen. (

© 2003 Al Bawaba (

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