Norway PM at South Pole 100 years after it was conquered

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Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg arrived at the South Pole Monday to celebrate his compatriot, explorer Roald Amundsen, who became the first man to reach the world's southernmost point 100 years ago.

Stoltenberg, who flew to the Pole from New Zealand on an American C-130 Hercules plane, then explored the area on skis.

"Skiing at the South Pole. Beautiful and savage nature," he wrote on his official Twitter feed.

"You can understand how enormous Amundsen's feat was. He and his men built the polar nation," he added, linking a picture of himself on skis, dressed in red.

Stoltenberg is only the second government chief to ever set foot on the South Pole, following the 2007 visit by then prime minister of New Zealand Helen Clark.

On December 14, 1911, Amundsen and four members of his team were the first to arrive at the southernmost tip of the globe, planting a Norwegian flag at the pole to mark their epic victory over British adventurer Robert Scott.

Just beaten to the finish line, Scott and his men, who had chosen to make the trip using ponies rather than dogs, died after being caught in a blizzard on their way back.

On Wednesday, an ice sculpture of Amundsen is scheduled to be unveiled at the US scientific base station Amundsen Scott, which today is located near the Pole.

According to the Norwegian Polar Institute, a dozen Norwegian South Pole expeditions are expected to arrive this month to mark the 100th anniversary of Amundsen's conquest.

© 2011 AFP

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