Norway is a strong supporter and member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and cautiously awaits the entry of new members into the body. It makes much out of the fact that it is the alliance's only country to share a border with Russia. In February 2002, Bondevik stated that he firmly supported the accession of the Baltic States to NATO. Norway is in favor of any sort of collaboration in the Arctic region and the Barents Sea, with the United States, Canada, Russia, and other Europeans. It feels itself to be closely aligned with the United States and the United Kingdom, and is not in favor of French attempts to create a European foreign policy.
Norway, both under the Labor Party and center-right coalition, took a leadership role in attempting to forge a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians. In Oslo in 1994, the late Norwegian foreign minister Johan Jorgen Holst got the two parties to agree in principle to peace in what became known as the Oslo Accords. In addition to mediating in the Middle East, Norway has played such a role in Myanmar, Colombia, and Guatemala. Norway gives out a higher percentage of its GDP than any other country (currently 0.9%) in aid to the world's poorest countries. In calling for the eradication of poverty worldwide, Bondevik has noted the importance of good governance, increased development assistance, cooperation with the private sector, debt relief, and an improved access to markets for developing countries. He has paid close attention to issues of security and development in Africa. He remains a strong supporter of human rights.
In January 2002, Bondevik traveled to China, and the two countries pledged bilateral cooperation in the areas of telecommunications, environmental protection, fishing, shipping, and science and technology. Bondevik noted that since China is now a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), they will have better opportunities for economic and trade cooperation.
In December 2002, Bondevik mentioned for the first time a third EU membership debate in Norway, saying that a new referendum is more likely to come about than not. He added that he would like to assess the outcome of the Convention and enlargement, which means that he does not expect the new debate to start before 2005. Public opinion polls in January 2003 showed that 67% would vote yes to EU membership, while 33% would remain opposed.
In spring 2003 during the preparation for the war with Iraq, Bondevik said that the weapons inspectors should have more time. Norway did not support the U.S.-led war with Iraq, but Bondevik stated that his government would be prepared to provide humanitarian aid. In May 2003, Bondevik undertook efforts to bridge the chasm between French and U.S. leaders over the Iraqi war, traveling to meet with U.S. president George Bush, UK prime minister Tony Blair, and French president Jacques Chirac. Bondevik proposed close cooperation between the countries of NATO and the United Nations, as the international community developed plans for Iraq after the downfall of Saddam Hussein.