Good afternoon, everyone. Before I get started with my statement about the bilateral meeting we just concluded and the important conference held here today, I just want to express our deep concern about the earthquake in Italy. And we extend our deepest sympathies to the victims, and our prayers and thoughts are with those who have lost loved ones, those who may still be trapped, and to the rescue workers and the people of Italy who are dealing with this tragedy.
I want to thank Foreign Minister Stoere for being here today. The United States and Norway enjoy a long and close friendship and a very important collaboration based not only on shared values but on common bonds of family and culture, represented by millions of Americans of Norwegian heritage.
We just concluded a very productive discussion that covered a long list of issues important to both Norway and the United States, and I reiterated to the foreign minister just how much the Obama Administration values our partnership with Norway. Together, we’re looking for ways to address common challenges such as the impact of climate change and a number of regional issues, from Afghanistan to the Middle East to Sri Lanka.
The United States appreciates Norway’s leadership in the Arctic Council, and it’s the current chair of that council. And we certainly are grateful for the minister’s contribution to the success of today’s joint session of the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting and the Arctic Council. As Arctic members, as one of the five countries – Norway being another, Russia, Denmark, and Canada – whose landmasses all converge on the Arctic, it’s important that we work together to ensure that any development in the Arctic takes into account the region’s fragile ecological balance. In the months ahead as we move closer to December’s UN climate change conference in Copenhagen, we will work closely with one another to ensure that that conference creates a viable framework for addressing the threat of climate change.
Few countries have contributed to the cause of global peace and resolving conflicts around the world more than Norway has, and we deeply appreciate Norway’s many contributions as a NATO ally to the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, including leadership of a Provincial Reconstruction Team. And we look for Norway to continue not only to provide support but good guidance and advice based on their firsthand experience.
We also appreciate Norway’s longstanding contributions to the Middle East peace process, including its work as co-chair of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee which coordinates international assistance to the Palestinian people. And we discussed Norway’s untiring efforts to end the bloodshed in Sri Lanka.
With increasing attention on the global financial crisis, we deeply value Norway’s cooperation in addressing this crisis, including its recent offer to contribute over $4 billion to the International Monetary Fund.
The United States and Norway share a commitment to promoting global peace and development. We discussed some very specific ways, including an important and innovative partnership on behalf of maternal and child health, something that I have worked on for many decades.
So, Mr. Minister, thank you. Thank you for representing a country that punches way above its weight. Thank you for the cooperative relationship that you in your current position have demonstrated time and time again just in the last ten weeks that we have been in office. And I look forward to working closely with you in the future.FOREIGN MINISTER STOERE:
Thank you so much for those words, Madame Secretary. They reflect our conversation, and thank you for the nice words to Norway. Let me say how much I appreciate working with you as Secretary, taking forward this very special bilateral relationship for Norway. We know all people with Norwegian background in this country, and we meet them frequently and we hear from them.
Since you took office, as you said, we have met in a Middle East context, we have met in a NATO context, we have met in an Afghanistan context, and today we met in an Arctic/Antarctic context. What more do we need to illustrate that there is a globalized world with common challenges? You met with my prime minister last week on climate issues, so there we have yet another dimension.
I simply want to say that for Norway the transatlantic relationship, the NATO membership, and the relationship with the U.S. is an anchor in our security policy. Being here reiterating the foundations of that relationship is important to me, it’s important to my government, and leaving a meeting with you with all those follow-up points which are exciting, quite daunting so many of them, knowing what world we live in. But I feel tremendously inspired, especially when we come and our minds meet on these issues related to global health, human rights, opportunity for women and children to survive and live and flourish and take advantage of their potential. This is our responsibility. And since there is so much we can do about it which is there ready to implement and push forward, I look forward to our relationship as colleagues, and I am very happy for the reception you have given me here today.SECRETARY CLINTON:
Thank you, Minister.MR. WOOD:
We have time for two questions, the first one from Kirit Radia of ABC News.QUESTION:
Madame Secretary, yesterday the Security Council failed to condemn North Korea for its launch, and U.S. efforts appear increasingly unlikely to get a strong international response that you’re looking for. What can the U.S. do bilaterally and internationally to punish North Korea?SECRETARY CLINTON:
Well, first let me say that the United States is joined by many countries in denouncing the actions of North Korea. It was, in our view, a clear violation of Security Council Resolution 1718. It’s a provocative act that has grave implications. North Korea ignored its international obligations, rejected the unequivocal calls for restraint, and further isolated itself from the community of nations.
We are actively involved in consultation with partners at the United Nations, members of the Security Council. I have spoken with all of the foreign ministers of the countries that participate in the Six-Party Talks, some more than once. And we know that working out the exact language is not easily done overnight, but we remain convinced that coming out with a strong position in the United Nations is the first and important step that we intend to take.
North Korea has to know that any efforts to obtain the objectives it set forth as desiring in the Six-Party Talks are put at jeopardy. But we’re going to take this one step at a time, and right now our representative to the United Nations is involved in nonstop discussions, as are myself and other members of this government, and we’re not going to prejudge the outcome.QUESTION:
You’ve obviously (inaudible) through a very broad agenda. Madame Secretary, can you see an area of foreign policy where Norway actually could – a country like Norway could make a difference? SECRETARY CLINTON:
Oh, my goodness. How much time do you have? I think Norway has made such a difference for so long. I just think back to the Oslo process, which put into motion years of actions that led to peace agreements with Jordan, which led to other measures that kept people alive and created positive outcomes on the ground in the Middle East. I think of the extraordinary breadth of Norwegian involvement in conflicts across the world.
Norway brings to each foreign policy challenge credibility as a nation that can be an independent and productive partner. Norway’s role in development assistance is among the very best in the world. And the more that Norway has learned about development, the more the others of us learn because they’re often on the front lines. We’re discussing some of the specific development projects that Norway has pioneered. In my efforts to look hard at our own development programs, I look to Norway among a very small number of countries that have not just commitment but proven results.
On nonproliferation and disarmament, its strong NATO commitment to the Afghanistan effort, just I think that anyone who looks around the world and tries to identify countries that have a proven track record in making a difference in global problems on a bilateral basis, a regional basis, a transnational one. The work that Norway has led on the Arctic is critically important for our future, its leadership on climate change – there is a long list that I won’t embarrass the minister by going on any longer – (laughter) – because that would be contrary to the Norwegian modesty that we know so well.
So, but let me just conclude by underlying the very high regard that I personally, that the Obama Administration, and our country have for the role that Norway plays. MR. WOOD:
Thank you all very much.SECRETARY CLINTON:
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