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Massive US aircraft carrier sails into Oslo for NATO exercises

By Gwladys Fouche and Victoria Klesty

OSLO (Reuters) -The world's largest aircraft carrier, the USS Gerald R. Ford, sailed into Oslo on Wednesday, a first for such a U.S. ship, in a show of NATO force at a time of heightened tension between NATO and Russia over the war in Ukraine.

The ship and its crew will be conducting training exercises with the Norwegian armed forces along the country's coast in the coming days, the Norwegian military said.

"This visit is an important signal of the close bilateral relationship between the U.S. and Norway and a signal of the credibility of collective defence and deterrence," said Jonny Karlsen, a spokesperson for the Norwegian Joint Headquarters, the operational command centre of the military.

At one spot on the Oslo fjord, dozens of people of all ages gathered on the shore to observe the vessel as it cruised by, taking pictures and videos.

Norwegian media reported the aircraft carrier would sail north of the Arctic Circle. Karlsen declined to comment on the reports.

The Russian embassy in Oslo condemned the aircraft carrier's Oslo visit.

"There are no questions in the (Arctic) north that require a military solution, nor topics where outside intervention is needed," the embassy said in a Facebook post.

"Considering that it is admitted in Oslo that Russia poses no direct military threat to Norway, such demonstrations of power appear illogical and harmful."

NATO member Norway shares a border with Russia in the Arctic and last year became Europe's largest gas supplier after a drop in Russian gas flows.

The Norwegian military and NATO allies have been patrolling around offshore oil and gas platforms since the autumn, following explosions on the Nord Stream pipelines in the Baltic Sea.

(Reporting by Gwladys Fouche and Victoria Klesty; Editing by Bernadette Baum)