Posts Tagged ‘Villy Sovndal’

Remarks With Danish Foreign Minister Villy Sovndal


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Eigtveds Pakhus
Copenhagen, Denmark
May 31, 2012

FOREIGN MINISTER SOVNDAL: Yes. Hello and welcome. First of all, I would like to welcome you to Copenhagen. It’s been a pleasure. I’m very happy to be able to return hospitality and generosity you showed when I was in Washington just before Christmas. Thank you very much for that.

And it’s a great pleasure to receive Secretary of State Hillary Clinton here in Copenhagen. One important thing for Secretary Clinton’s visit here will be green growth and the potential for a green transition of our economies. I believe that Denmark has a lot to offer in that regard, and the importance of the United States is hard to overrate. This theme means a lot to both of us.

We had a very fruitful meeting where we discussed a wide range of shared policy priorities. I would like to briefly mention a few of the main items we discussed.

First of all, we had a very frank discussion about Afghanistan. Following up on the NATO Summit, which the United States successfully hosted in Chicago just a few weeks ago, I believe I speak on behalf of both of us when I say that there is a need of realism regarding the prospects for Afghanistan. Transition in Afghanistan is a bumpy road; that’s no secret. But the transition is moving forward, and it will complete by the end of 2014. It is vital that we enable the Afghans to take over full responsibility for their security. I’m therefore very encouraged to note that we have already secured substantial long-term contribution for the Afghan National Security Force, and that was not least a result of the very close cooperation we had between our two countries leading up to Chicago.

We also had an excellent discussion regarding our mutual efforts to help stabilize the Horn of Africa, Libya, and the Sahel region. We agreed on strengthening the U.S.-Danish partnership to prevent and counter terrorism in East Africa. A key focus area will be to prevent the financing of terrorism. We also agreed on the need to strengthen respect for human rights and the rule of law in our effort to counter terrorism. We will launch a joint project focusing on states moving towards democratic governance, including the countries in North Africa. Moreover, we will also jointly provide support for an observation mission to monitor the upcoming elections in Libya. We stand committed to assisting the Libyans in their efforts towards securing a peaceful and democratic future for their elections.

Finally, we discussed the potential for stronger cooperation on promoting green growth. The backdrop of our discussion was the Rio+20 conference on sustainable development, which is just a few weeks ahead. Later today, a strong bilateral green partnership will be kicked off here in Copenhagen. I hope this can also be a driver for an increased investment in trade.

Secretary of State, we must – we meet frequently in different locations around the world. I’m therefore very pleased to be able to receive you here in Copenhagen, so to say, on home ground. I very much appreciate our sincere, frank cooperation, and I hope you’ll enjoy not only this visit, but don’t be shy to come back here once again if you want.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Minister Sovndal, thank you so much for your warm welcome. It is indeed a pleasure to be back here in Copenhagen. This is my first stop on a trip that will take me to several European countries over the next week to underscore America’s commitment to our transatlantic allies and our shared values. You are, after all, our partners of first resort. And together, we are facing the challenges of a complex, dangerous, and fast-moving world. And I’m particularly grateful for Denmark’s leadership in the area of humanitarian and development assistance as well as the staunch contributions to our shared security.

The friendship between our two countries dates back more than two centuries and the bonds between our people have endured over that time. Our commitment to democracy, to human rights, to human dignity is core to all of us. And this morning I had the great privilege of speaking with a group of Danish young people about the kind of future that we hope awaits them.

We had a very productive lunch, talked through a range of issues as the minister has said, because after all we are working together on matters ranging from nuclear proliferation in Iran to global food security.

Regarding Afghanistan I thanked the foreign minister for the leadership of the Danish Government and the sacrifices made by the Danish people, in particular your extraordinary soldiers. Danish soldiers have fought valiantly alongside American and allied forces. And as we prepare for the transition in 2014, when the Afghans themselves will take full responsibility for their own security, Denmark has responded by generously committing to supporting the Afghan National Security Forces after the transition and calling on other nations to do the same through its Coalition of Committed Contributors initiative.

As we look toward the donors’ summit in Tokyo in July, Denmark will continue to play a leading role in helping the Afghan people make progress in governance, on education, healthcare, and other indices of development. Denmark’s commitment to new democracies extends far beyond Afghanistan and into the Middle East and North Africa, where it has pledged money in assistance and working to spark economic growth, especially in the private sector. And I expressed our gratitude for the leadership once again that Denmark is showing, because it is essential that democracies, especially these very young democracies, deliver tangible results for people.

We of course discussed Denmark’s leadership on climate change and the environment. As an Arctic nation, Denmark knows very well how pressing these issues are. And as climate change progresses, its impact will affect the livelihoods of millions of people who are dependent on this region’s natural resources. Denmark is a strong voice for taking aggressive action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and by leading the charge with your own domestic goal of cutting emissions by 40 percent by 2020. And I want to applaud Denmark’s decision to join the Climate and Clean Air Coalition that will help us reduce the short-lived climate pollutants as well as CO2. That’s an important complement to what is being done with respect to carbon emissions.

For our part, the United States has continued to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We’ve established new fuel efficiency standards that will be among the most aggressive in the world. We have invested more than $90 billion in clean energy and energy efficiency. We’ve more than doubled our installed capacity of wind and solar in four years. So I’m looking forward to this afternoon’s Green Partnership for Growth event with the prime minister, and I applaud Denmark’s leadership in creating the Global Green Growth Forum, an innovative platform that encourages leaders across governments, the private sector, and civil society to work together.

And finally, let me say a word about Syria. The world looked on last week at the massacre in Houla with horror, and those responsible must be held to account. We and the world have joined in condemning the brutality of the Assad regime. I spoke with Special Envoy Kofi Annan yesterday about his recent visit to Damascus. We are working with Denmark and others to make sure the international community speaks with a unified voice to increase pressure on Assad from both inside and outside. We have to peel away the regime’s continued support within Syria while bolstering our assistance to the opposition and by isolating the regime diplomatically and economically.

So we have a lot of work ahead of us, Minister, and I want to conclude by thanking you again as well as the people of Denmark for your invaluable partnership and leadership. I look forward to our continuing coordination and collaboration, and it is a great pleasure for me to have this opportunity to be here once again. Thank you.

MODERATOR: Thank you. We will now take a few questions. (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: Thank you. Madam Secretary, as you have stated, Denmark has played an important role in different missions around the world – in Iraq, Afghanistan, and recently in Libya. Right now, the situation in Syria is on top of the agenda. If – and that’s my question – if an international coalition could – can be formed, could you then see Denmark take play in such a coalition?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think we have to take stock of where we are and what is possible. I see Denmark as a contributor to any mission anywhere be it security, be it development, be it humanitarian, because the track record of Danish participation is exemplary. So of course, if there were such an international coalition to do anything to try to alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people, we would certainly reach out as broadly as possible and be consulting closely with the Danish Government.

Right now, we continue to support Kofi Annan and his efforts. And we do so fully aware that thus far Assad has not implemented any of the six points that are part of the Kofi Annan plan. But we also know that the UN observers have performed two important functions. In many of the areas where they are present, violence has gone down. And they serve as independent observers – the eyes of the world, if you will – in reporting back when terrible events like the recent massacres occur to try to cut through the clutter and disinformation coming from the Syrian Government.

We’re also aware that there is still a fear among many elements of the Syrian society and the Syrian Government that as bad as the Assad regime is, it could get worse. And we therefore continue to call upon the business leadership, the religious leadership, the military leadership, those voices within the government that know what is going on is leading to the very outcome they fear most, which is a sectarian civil war, to stand up now and call a halt to further support for this regime.

So we’re nowhere near putting together any kind of coalition other than to alleviate the suffering, which we are all contributing to, but we are working very hard to focus the efforts of those, who like Denmark and the United States, are appalled by what we see going on, to perhaps win over those who still support the regime inside and outside of Syria to see what options are available to us.

QUESTION: Jim Mannion from Agence France Presse. Madam Secretary, again on Syria, at this point with the Russians refusing a budge on Syria and with the country appearing to tip towards civil war, is it now a live option to move beyond the requirement of an explicit UN mandate to some sort of action outside of the UN? Is that something the U.S. is considering? Is that a possibility at this point?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Jim, we consider all contingencies at all time. I mean, we plan against everything in order to be prepared in the event that action is called for. But I can tell you that right now, we are focused on supporting Kofi Annan, reaching out both inside and outside of Syria, bringing together those who are most directly affected, particularly in the region. In the last several days, I’ve had numerous conversations – I will have many more over the next few days – with particular attention paid on – to the Russians. Because the Russians keep telling us they want to do everything they can to avoid a civil war because they believe that the violence would be catastrophic. They often, in their conversations with me, liken it to the equivalent of a very large Lebanese civil war, and they are just vociferous in their claim that they are providing a stabilizing influence.

I reject that. I think they are, in effect, propping up the regime at a time when we should be working on a political transition. So I look forward to working with Kofi Annan, with likeminded nations like Denmark and many others, and with the Russians to see if we can’t get a way forward.


QUESTION: Oliver Skov with the Danish Broadcasting Corporation. The Danes are very curious and interested in the – in U.S. politics and the upcoming elections. (Laughter.) I was hoping you would comment on the upcoming elections and, on a more personal level, your own role after the elections in November.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I am, as Secretary of State, out of politics. And that’s a rule that we have in our system, that because I have international responsibilities, I cannot participate in the political process. So for the first time in my adult life, I will not be actively engaged in this election.

Clearly, I anticipate and expect the President to be reelected, and the policies that have been pursued in this Administration to continue. But the voters, as in any democracy, will have the final word on the outcome. But I’m looking forward to working as hard as I can until the end of my tenure as Secretary of State, and then will look forward to some time to collect myself and spend it doing just ordinary things that I very much am looking forward to again, like taking a walk without a lot of company – not that I don’t love seeing you all – but just having the time to set my own schedule and pursue a lot of the interests that I have pursued my entire life, particularly on behalf of women and children.

QUESTION: No politics?


MODERATOR: One final question. Brad.

QUESTION: Yes, Brad Klapper from Associated Press. Madam Secretary, there’s been increasing talk in Israel, including yesterday from the defense minister, about unilateral action or interim solution in the West Bank in lieu of progress in the peace process. Would you encourage or discourage unilateral withdrawal by Israel from some land, even if it’s not all the Palestinians seek? And what would the unilateral aspect of such a move mean for the chances of establishing a long-lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Brad, the United States believes there is no substitute for direct talks between the parties. It is the only route to achieving what has long been not only a Palestinian goal and an American goal, but an Israeli goal, which are two states living side by side in peace and security. We have discouraged unilateral action from both sides, and in fact, we think that this new coalition government in Israel provides the best opportunity in several years to reach such a negotiated agreement. In fact, when the coalition was formed, there were four pillars of agreement, and one of them was pursuing the two-state solution.

So we very much want to encourage the Israelis and the Palestinians to do that, and in fact, they have recently exchanged letters, from President Abbas to President – to Prime Minister Netanyahu, and Prime Minister Netanyahu to President Abbas that have outlined the conditions for dialogue. And in recent weeks, I’ve called both Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas urging them to take this opportunity, to use this new opening that has come about because of the broad coalition that now exists that has pledged itself to pursuing a negotiated resolution. And we’re going to continue to urge them to do so.

We greatly appreciate the role that Jordan has played. King Abdullah of Jordan has been extraordinarily forceful in urging the parties to come to the negotiating table. I spoke with Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh over the weekend about the status of the discussions. So we believe that there is an opportunity for direct negotiations, and we hope it was enhanced by the release of bodies today by the Israelis of Palestinians whom they had either killed or who had been suicide bombers going back many years as a sign of confidence building. But they need to get to the table and start dealing with all the very hard issues we know have to be resolved.

MODERATOR: Thank you very much. We’re out of time.



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Remarks With Danish Foreign Minister Villy Sovndal After Their Meeting


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
December 15, 2011

SECRETARY CLINTON:Good afternoon, everyone. It’s a great pleasure to welcome Foreign Minister Sovndal for our first meeting here in Washington in his new role. And it is also clear that for me, even in this age of video conferencing and, obviously, telephone calls, and email, that there’s nothing to replace face-to-face meetings and diplomacy. And so I thank you very much for coming, Minister.Our friendship between our two countries dates back more than two centuries and we share a common bond that is our fundamental commitment to democracy and human rights. We are working in a number of areas throughout the world to advance our common interests and we will continue to do so. And in fact, we are going to be discussing ways we can even build on our already deep and important work. Let me just mention a few of the issues we discussed.

First, the transition in Afghanistan: I expressed my admiration and appreciation for all that the Danish people have done to support the people of Afghanistan. Danish troops are deployed throughout the country serving shoulder-to-shoulder with American and other allied forces. I know that Danish forces have suffered terrible losses, but I want to express our gratitude for their sacrifice, which is helping to create conditions for a safe and orderly transition to Afghan security lead in Helmand province.

We discussed a number of the issues that are necessary to fulfill the potential of a transition that will help Afghanistan as well as the transformation that needs to continue well beyond 2014. We will be discussing these issues in the lead up to the NATO summit in Chicago next May, and I look forward to working with our Danish partners to shape the agenda for that meeting, as well as other NATO efforts.

I know we can count on Denmark’s continued leadership, especially when it comes to committing long term funding beyond 2014 for Afghanistan. International cooperation has been key to the successes we’ve seen so far, and as we all agreed in Bonn, we need to continue that up through 2014 and beyond.

Now more broadly, stabilizing fragile states is an area where we have an opportunity to expand our work together. Denmark has made its commitment clear by strengthening its stabilization and security departments, and by increasing its support in 2012 for peace and stabilization efforts not only in Afghanistan, but also the Middle East and throughout Africa. At a time when every budget is stretched thin, Minister, that sends an important message. And the State Department recently created a Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations, and we look forward to working with you and pursuing an agenda to enhance global security and development.

Foreign Minister and I also discussed Denmark’s role as president of the European Union in 2012. We both recognize the need to maintain and intensify our close cooperation on the full range of U.S.-EU issues, including security and development. Naturally, we discussed decisions regarding Europe’s debt crisis. We all have a stake in a speedy resolution. The United States supports efforts to enact pro-growth reforms, and we will continue to support the work being done by our European partners.

And finally, I thanked the foreign minister for Denmark’s effective leadership on Arctic issues. As climate change progresses, the matter of preserving freedom of navigation and other issues in the Arctic will only grow more pressing. Earlier this year, Denmark’s leadership on the Arctic Council resulted in the conclusion of an Arctic Search and Rescue Agreement, the first legally binding agreement among the eight Arctic states and observers. This was an important early step and I look forward to collaborating with our Danish colleagues on more issues related to this vital region.

So, Foreign Minister, let me conclude by thanking you and the people of Denmark once more for your invaluable partnership and your leadership on so many issues from counterterrorism to Green Growth. I look forward to many other fruitful discussions and I appreciate your coming at such a busy time to begin that conversation.

FOREIGN MINISTER SOVNDAL: Thank you very much. Thank you very much for your warm welcome, thank you very much for your hospitality. Denmark’s relationship with the EU is of great importance, I think, for both of us. We – it’s very important also for us, first, to have a friendly and also an honest dialogue about two close allies as our countries. We appreciate very much the multilateral approach you have to the global questions. We cooperate in a lot of different areas, as you mentioned. I think it’s very important these years to build up international relation on promoting human rights. There is a fight in a lot of places in the world about that, about democratic values, and rule of law.

As you mentioned, we are going to take the EU presidency. It’s not in the most easy time we have to do that. We’ll do what we can to make a successful presidency. We know that the economic question, the debt crisis of Europe, is playing a big role. Europe is taking steps to try to make answers to the economic challenges we face. One of the important things for the new Danish Government is to increase what we call Green Growth. We think that’s one of the common ways out of this crisis, to be better at green technology.

As mentioned, we also discussed the Arab Spring, its situation with a lot of hope and some concern about the changes taking place. We are very much encouraged by what’s happened in Libya. We’re very much encouraged about the elections taking place in Tunisia. We looked at some concern about Egypt, but we’ll stay there. And I think the important thing is if we are most to hope or most to concern that we stay there not to take over the developments they’re going to make, but to be at their side and help.

We also confirmed today our common work to be done in Afghanistan. We’re going to stay there also after 2014, not in the hard combat mission, but with assistant aid, and we’re also helping financing the Afghan national forces. As you mentioned also, I think we can also help each other trying to stabilize some of the fragile countries. We have a very big interest in doing that when – if we can secure these states.

And just to finish off, we have a common agenda about disarmament. We have a dream of a world free of nuclear weapons. We’d like to work also on that agenda together.

And finally about Arctic, it’s a very – it’s a region which is getting more and more important. And we think it’s a good example also how states with difficult – different interests are able to work together in a way where its international law, its international rules, deciding the way we’re going to handle also difficult questions in the region. So you could say from Arctic to the Arab Spring, it’s a very broad agenda. It’s because we are in a world with a lot of big agendas just now. Thank you.


MS. NULAND: We have time for four today. We will start with ABC, Kirit Radia.

QUESTION: Thank you very much, Madam Secretary and Mr. Minister. Two questions, Madam Secretary. The first today being a milestone day in Iraq with the casing of the colors, do you have anything to say about that and some of the concerns that have been raised about the ability of diplomats to get out of the Embassy given these – lack of immunity for contractors?

And the second question I have, Russia has tabled a resolution at the UN today on Syria. I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to see it yet, but there – it does contain some language about how the government has not enacted enough reforms, but it also says that it blames extremist groups in the country for some of the violence. Do you have any comment on that? Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, with regard to Iraq, as you all know very well, the end of our military mission was recognized yesterday with Secretary Panetta’s visit. Prime Minister Maliki was here in Washington meeting with the President and many others to discuss the way forward. We have renewed our commitment under the Strategic Framework Agreement to work closely with the Iraqis to help them realize their own ambitions for a free and sovereign Iraq. We will continue to support them, and obviously the lead role in that now falls, as it does in our relations with countries all over the world, to the State Department.

We think we are well positioned for the 2012 transition to a civilian-led presence. We have a very robust presence that will demonstrate our commitment across the board in every area under the Strategic Framework Agreement with diplomats, business and development experts, security assistance staff, police trainers, law enforcement officers, and many others from across many civilian agencies within our own government. And we’ve made clear that we will have to be working closely with the Iraqis to ensure the security of our civilians. And we have had very strong commitments from the Iraqis that whatever assistance we need will be forthcoming. I think it’s understood that this is one of the most challenging missions that the State Department has ever led. But we’ve had a great deal of thought given to what needs to be accomplished, and the team, both here in Washington and, even more importantly in Baghdad, Erbil, Kirkuk, and Basra, is very well prepared. So we’re moving forward.

With respect to the point you just made about a Russian draft, I have not seen the draft. I’ve had it just briefly described to me, and there are some issues in it that we would not be able to support. There is, unfortunately, a seeming parity between the government and peaceful protestors and then other Syrians who are trying to defend themselves, but we’re going to study the draft carefully. It will have to be shared with the Arab League, which has taken the lead on the response to what’s going on in Syria. And hopefully, we can work with the Russians, who – for the first time, at least – are recognizing that this is a matter that needs to go to the Security Council. It’s just that we have differences in how they are approaching it. But we hope to be able to work with them.

MS. NULAND: Next question, Stefan Graham, Danish Broadcasting.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, your NATO ambassador recently said that with under investment in NATO over the coming years NATO would be unable to launch any new actions similar to the one we’ve just experienced in Libya. To what extent does under investment in NATO threaten NATO?

And Mr. Foreign Minister, Denmark is planning substantial cuts in defense. How are you able to convince critical allies that we are going to pay our fair share for the future of NATO and to sustain NATO capabilities?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Do you want to start, Minister?

FOREIGN MINISTER SOVNDAL: Shall I start? I think we are in the position like all the European countries are, like U.S. also are, that we don’t have the money we had once, also not the military spending. The former government and the present government is (inaudible) the same goal as how much could be taken out of the military spending and still remain a strong military. We have some structural reforms we can make on Danish military. They have not been published yet.

But I’m sure – to answer your question – that Denmark will be able to do the kind of missions we did like the one in Libya. And if there might be someplace else in the future we have to participate, we are going to participate also on the (inaudible) side of the military mission. That’s one side. The other side of Danish defense policy is to build up fragile states, to be able also to prevent conflicts which might – if not intervening be developing into something where we have to react, military may be too late. So you could say we are trying to walk both on the one leg and also on the other leg. And I think that’s a good way of walking actually. (Laughter.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: We agree. I think you’ve heard not only from our NATO ambassador but also from defense secretaries and others that we do have a concern about the sustainability of our NATO forces and deterrent. It’s something that we have discussed very openly in NATO. We will continue to do so.

We believe that the alliance that has stood the test of time since the end of the Second World War is the premier military alliance in all of history. And there is no indication that it will be less needed in the future. There will be new challenges and threats, but the environment is certainly not one yet that we would like to see, where the collective defense that we’ve all pledged to under NATO will never be needed again.

In addition, the role that NATO has played in Libya most recently, in Afghanistan, has been instrumental to a lot of the values that we share. Denmark alone flew nearly 600 missions and was highly regarded in the professionalism of your military in doing so.

So we will follow closely developments in Europe. The minister is right, that we also have our own budgetary challenges. So we have to get smarter. I mean, let’s be – let’s pursue smart defense. And smart defense, which is a part of smart power, requires us to be looking for ways that we can cooperate more, where we can come up with new approaches to meeting our strategic and tactical requirements. So this will be a subject of a lot of conversation in the upcoming year.

MS. NULAND: Next question, Matt Lee, AP.

QUESTION: Hello. Hi, Madam Secretary.


QUESTION: I hope I don’t shock you too much, but I actually only have one question.

SECRETARY CLINTON: I can’t believe it.

QUESTION: It’s got two parts, but it’s only – (laughter.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: No. Then I’m not at all shocked. I’m actually reassured.

QUESTION: As you are no doubt aware, Bradley Manning’s trial begins tomorrow. I’m wondering if you have any thoughts about that, but more broadly what your thoughts are about the impact the WikiLeaks incident, if we can call it that, had and is having, if it is still having any effect or deleterious effect on U.S. diplomacy in a way that foreign policy is conducted.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Matt, I cannot comment on an ongoing legal proceeding, and as you rightly point out, the trial is beginning, and we will, obviously, save any comment while that proceeding is ongoing.

I’ve said numerous times from this podium and in other locations that it was a very unfortunate and damaging actions – action – that were taken that put at risk individuals and relationships to an extent that we took it very seriously and launched a vigorous diplomatic effort to try to counter.

I think that in an age when so much information is flying through cyberspace, we all have to be aware of the fact that some information – which is sensitive, which does affect the security of individuals and relationships – deserves to be protected. And we will continue to take necessary steps to do so.

MS. NULAND: Last question, Jorgen Ullerup, Jyllands-Posten newspaper.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, with Denmark’s new socialist government, you found a colleague who has traditionally been very critical of American policies. How do you look at that? And are you the least bit worried that you – America might lose a close ally in the long term?

And to the Danish foreign minister, the United States have stepped up its killing of insurgents with armed drones. Do you think that’s a breach of international law? And if yes, have you brought that up in the conversation today?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, let me say that we believe that our relationship with Denmark is strong and enduring, and we respect the right of the people of Denmark to choose their leaders. But we do not believe that that in any way interrupts or undermines the strength of our partnership, both bilaterally and multilaterally.

And I really don’t recognize the gentleman that you’ve just described, because my interactions with the minister have been not only cordial but very constructive. And we each bring to these official positions that we hold our own views. That kind of goes with the territory, having come up through politics in a democracy and having many occasions in the past to express those various opinions. But I think that our meeting today set a very strong base on which we will build, and we’ll look to find ways to work together even beyond what we are already doing.

So it is always, I think, important to, first, recognize that nations’ interests and relationships are of much more historic depth than individuals, perhaps. But I am very much looking forward to working closely with the minister on a range of matters that concern us both.

FOREIGN MINISTER SOVNDAL: And the same from my side. I look very much forward to working with the U.S. Administration. I think you mentioned an American I cannot recognize. That – I mean, I’m not un-Danish when I criticize a government that was before me. It’s, you could say, politics. I am a great (inaudible) of American culture. I think some of us listened in our young days to the same music, all the same films, have been reading the same books, have been a lot of interaction. Some of us have family here. So there’s a lot of relationships. They will continue. They will continue.

And of course, among good friends, you’re always in a situation where there are questions you judge differently. That’s also the case between our governments. But on the very important heavy agendas – Libya, Afghanistan – we work together and we act together. We work very well together, and I assure you that will continue.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much. And thank you, Minister. Merry Christmas. Happy New Year.

FOREIGN MINISTER SOVNDAL: Thank you very much. And the same to you.


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