SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you very much. I’m really happy to welcome His Excellency, the Foreign Minister of Norway Borge Brende. It’s very, very nice to have him here. There’s no way to exaggerate the enormous amount of good work and cooperation and partnership that Norway has with the United States, but most importantly, Norway is just a huge global citizen. And I want to thank the Government of Norway and the people of Norway for the incredible role that they play on rule of law, on civil society, on humanitarian assistance, on global environmental issues, on humanitarian issues of grave concern, on proliferation.
Recently, Norway has stepped up and offered to be helpful with ships to be able to transport chemical weapons out of Syria. They have – when I traveled to the Sudan some time ago, I would run into the Norwegian oil minister who would be there helping to work on the solutions to the Sudanese oil issues. Norway is a terrific partner, a NATO ally, a great friend of the United States. And so I’m really happy to welcome the Foreign Minister – the new Foreign Minister here.
I had the privilege of living in Norway for a couple of years a long time ago, so I have a special affinity for Norway and Norwegians, but leaving that aside, the amount of global engagement that Norway executes is really astounding for the size of the country, and we all marvel at it.
Finally, they are also a terrific partner on the Arctic and on global climate change, which is a challenge that we all share.
So I’m very, very happy to welcome you here, it’s good to have you, and I look forward to have conversations.
FOREIGN MINISTER BRENDE: Thank you so much. Thank you.
QUESTION: Can you say something in Norwegian?
SECRETARY KERRY: (In Norwegian.) (Laughter.) I learned how to say a few things here and there.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, now that --
SECRETARY KERRY: No, no, no. Let me – I want the Minister to have a chance to say hello and then we’re going to go talk. Thank you.
FOREIGN MINISTER BRENDE: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Secretary Kerry, thank you for those very warm words. We in Norway strongly feel that the friendship between our two countries is very important to us, and the importance is growing. I think this also shows how close we are. We meet after a short time. And as the Secretary also strongly underlined, we will today discuss the humanitarian situation in Syria that is appalling, but we also are committed from the Norwegian side to now support the Security Resolution 2119 to make sure that weapons of mass destruction, chemical weapons, again, cannot be used against the people of Syria. The implementation of this resolution is extremely important.
We thank you, Mr. Secretary, for your leadership in this. I think without your courage – personal courage – that would not have happened. We from the Norwegian side – I’ll share also more details with the Secretary – we are committed, of course, on financing the whole operation with serious money to OPCW. We also will have Norwegian ships supporting the transportation. And we’re also stepping up further on the humanitarian relief. Already, we are the sixth largest donor. And we will also work heavily on making sure that the presidential statement in the Security Council on access to all the people suffering – the IDPs inside Syria – will be enforced. This is of extremely high importance.
Also, we are very supportive of the work that you, Mr. Secretary, are now doing on Israel-Palestine. We’re trying our best, as the leaders of the AHLC group, the donor group for PA. We know that the Palestinian areas have fundamental challenges now on the growing deficit, and Norway will follow up to make sure that the economic piece of Palestine is dealt with in a proactive way. And I would say, Mr. Secretary, we know that if you personally hadn’t stepped up and also made sure that Mr. Abbas and Mr. Netanyahu came together, this would not have happened. And in politics, people do make a difference, and if we in any way can support your work now on this, we are there.
Also on Iran, of course, this is the big issue. We support your leadership there and we hope that there will be a good deal for the world, because the alternatives, we do know they’re not good either.
On NATO, this is crucial importance for Norway. We have a huge discussion now also in Europe on the Eastern Partnership. For us, it is important that these countries can make a choice themself. This is fundamental in Europe, and this is a core value for us.
SECRETARY KERRY: Good.
FOREIGN MINISTER BRENDE: So again, thank you, Mr. Secretary, for receiving us and thank you for your kind words about Norway.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, everybody. Appreciate it.
FOREIGN MINISTER BRENDE: Thank you.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you.