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Iceland has to ease laws to allow Mike Pence’s security team to escort him on visit

Special permission was granted for agents to carry firearms while quarantine rules were waived to allow sniffer dogs in.

US vice president Mike Pence meets with Iceland prime minister Katrin Jakobsdottir (Egill Bjarnason/AP)
US vice president Mike Pence meets with Iceland prime minister Katrin Jakobsdottir (Egill Bjarnason/AP)

By Egill Bjarnason, Associated Press

US Vice President Mike Pence’s arrival in Iceland with military jets and armed personnel raised eyebrows in a nation consistently ranked as the world’s most peaceful.

The size and standards of the vice president’s security detail also required adjustments.

The guards protecting Mr Pence got back up from a police force that only allows elite Viking Swat members to carry guns.

Icelandic authorities gave US personnel special permission to carry firearms.

Bomb-sniffing dogs were cleared to enter the country because of a strict quarantine for imported animals.

Mr Pence is the first US vice president to visit Iceland, a country of just 350,000 people, since George H.W. Bush came to Reykjavik in 1983.

The Reykjavik Metropolitan Police requested backup from police stations in neighbouring towns and villages to meet US manpower standards.

“This is incredibly expensive,” Police Chief Asgeir Asgeirsson told the Morgunbladid daily newspaper.

But Helgi Hafsteinsson, an employee at a petrol station in Keflavik, welcomed the heavy traffic caused by Mr Pence’s visit.

“It is great for business,” he said.

Before Mr Pence’s arrival, US Secret Service personnel spent weeks scouting locations.

Icelandic President Gudni Th. Johannesson travels unaccompanied on private errands and is often spotted in a geothermal bath popular with locals.

All the moving parts required for the president’s safety tied up transportation in the capital.

Police closed off main roads to accommodate the convoy that drove from the airport to Reykjavik.

Drivers lamented the traffic on social media.

Satirical newspaper Frettirnar mocked that “Americans intended to give every Reykjavik citizen a paralysing drug during Pence’s visit”.

Helicopters hovered over the government building where Mr Pence met with Icelandic eland’s officials as snipers perched on neighbouring rooftops.

Ahead of Mr Pence’s arrival, three CV-22B Osprey flew over southwestern Iceland, along with two C-130 Hercules and one Lockheed C-5 Galaxy.

PA

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