Who Is Leif H. Larsen, Norway's Ambassador Killed In The Pakistan Helicopter Crash?
On Friday, Pakistan's military said a helicopter crash killed Norway's and the Philippines' ambassadors, Leif H. Larsen and Domingo D. Lucenario Jr., respectively, during a convoy trip to the northwest region of Kashmir. But who is Leif H. Larsen? Norway's ambassador to Pakistan was fully committed to enriching the relationship between the two countries.
According to his CV, Larsen entered foreign service in 1984 after receiving a master's in political science from the University of Bergen. He served in various positions at Norway's embassies in Saudi Arabia, Iceland, and Belgium. Throughout the 2000s, Larsen had several stints in Norway's ministry of foreign affairs as well as within its delegation to NATO. He became the country's ambassador to Pakistan in September 2014.
In an interview with Newsweek Pakistan, published just last Thursday, Larsen shared his views about Pakistan, the country to which he would be Norway's top representative. He cited the large population of Pakistanis in Norway as one of the strongest ties between the two nations. Larsen also said Norway and Pakistan shared common goals in ensuring security and combating terrorism. When asked what changes he's noticed in Westerners' perception of Pakistan, Larsen said:
There is so much more to Pakistan than being just a “hard” country. The soft side is so rich, yet we seldom hear about it. Pakistani people are warm, hospitable, hardworking, and want to make a difference.
Also killed in the tragic helicopter crash were the wives of Malaysia's and Indonesia's ambassadors and the two pilots in the crashed aircraft, according to Pakistani military spokesman General Asim Bajwa, who disclosed the news through his Twitter account. Polish ambassador Andrzej Ananciz and Dutch ambassador Marcel de Vink were reportedly injured. (Update: Bajwa has tweeted a crew member also died in the crash, bringing the total number of people killed to seven.)
The trip was part of a diplomatic convoy traveling to the disputed region of Kashmir, located in the northwest region of Pakistan, where they were set to attend the opening of a tourism project, according to BBC. Bajwa tweeted a second helicopter also crash landed but all of its passengers and crew survived. A third helicopter did not appear to be involved in a crash. Agence France-Press reported an unidentified passenger said 37 countries were represented in the trip.
The cause of the incident is still unknown, but there are already competing explanations for the crash. Bajwa tweeted the helicopter crashed after developing technical issues. The Pakistan Taliban claimed responsibility, saying in a statement it used an anti-aircraft missile to shoot down the helicopter. That claim has yet to be verified.