Remarks With Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere After Their Meeting

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Oslo, Norway
June 1, 2012

FOREIGN MINISTER STOERE: Good afternoon on this sunny Friday afternoon in Oslo. It is a great pleasure for me to welcome my friend and colleague, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, to Oslo. A few days ago, I had the privilege of visiting her city of birth, Chicago, and now I’m pleased to welcome her here in her capacity as the Secretary of State to my city of birth, Oslo. And I am also very happy that we are able to continue this visit on the flight north to Tromso, so we will get insights in this long stretch country of Norway.

I’ll just make a few remarks on our talks this morning and with the prime minister before lunch. We have a broad agenda which is, if I may say, free of issues between Norway and the United States, but they are filled with issues that concern Norway and the United States, and the issues where I would like to compliment the Secretary for having been a Secretary who’s looking for complementarity with allies and partners. And in area after area – and you just witnessed one downstairs on global health – we bring together our comparative advantage and experiences to try to maximize political efforts for change.

This morning we spent time on issues in the Arctic, which we certainly will follow up when we get to the Arctic. We touched upon climate change mitigation through supporting initiatives that actually bring difference. The world failed to get to one all-encompassing global deal on climate change a couple of years ago, but we are making progress on some individual projects such as fighting short-lived pollutants that have a dramatic effect in particular in the Arctic. We discussed that with the minister of the environment present, preparation for Rio+20, and other similar issues.

We followed up on our NATO meeting in Chicago discussing Afghanistan and our preparation for 2014 and the transition of security responsibility to the Afghan authorities, and not least, how we will stand by Afghanistan beyond 2014, supporting that country hopefully on the road of stability.

We touched upon Myanmar, where both the Secretary and I have visited, and where we are committed to support the forces for change, for democracy, and reform. We also discussed the drama unfolding in Syria, which is a preoccupation for the international community. And with the prime minister over lunch, we had a debate about the international financial situation, especially the economic situation in Europe, which is a concern for all of us. And we have a continuous agenda that we will continue to address tonight and tomorrow in Tromso. And I think they show us that our agenda is long, Secretary, and meeting with you and sharing your insight is always a great inspiration.

So, hearty welcome to Oslo.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, thank you again, Foreign Minister, and it’s been a very productive and, may I say, enjoyable day. Our long meeting, the very constructive and pleasant lunch hosted by the prime minister, along with our prior meeting there, and then I had the great privilege of meeting with His Majesty and Her Majesty, as well as the crown prince and Her Royal Highness.

Let me just hit a few of the high points, because whenever Jonas and I get together, we cover so much ground, and I’m looking forward to continuing the discussion tonight and tomorrow. One of the primary purposes of my being here today is to say thank you – not only thank you to the Norwegian Government, but to the Norwegian people. The United States is very grateful for the leadership and partnership that we enjoy with Norway. On every issue, whether it be peace or security, human rights or development, we know that we can work with, count on, and make progress if we are teaming up with the Norwegians.

And we just saw another example of that with our commitments to the Saving Mothers, Giving Life partnership, and we are looking forward to adding this collaboration to our ongoing work. We also appreciate all the ways that Norway leads on global health, including through the co-chairing with Nigeria of the United Nations Commission on Lifesaving Commodities for Women and Children. And we will be working hand-in-hand on the Child Survival Summit that we will host in Washington later this month along with India and Ethiopia.

On Afghanistan, I thank the foreign minister for the exemplary performance of Norwegian soldiers over the last years, and also for the commitment of $25 million annually to support the Afghan National Security Forces after 2014. We both recognize these continuing efforts are necessary for the long-term stability of Afghanistan.

I also discussed the upcoming visit by Aung San Suu Kyi here to Norway, where she will finally be able to deliver her Nobel Peace Prize address, more than 20 years overdue. We are both working to support the pro-democracy movement and to help support the government as it continues to take steps for reform, particularly in the area of ending ethnic conflicts.

Let me briefly mention Egypt, because yesterday the new Egyptian parliament allowed the country’s emergency law to expire after more than 30 years in force. This law, of course, had given police sweeping powers to detain people without charging them, and yesterday’s action is another positive step in Egypt’s domestic transition.

And as the foreign minister said, we discussed our countries’ work together on climate change and the environment. I certainly expressed our appreciation for Norway’s $1.5 million contribution to the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, an effort to reduce the short-lived pollutants that cause over one-third of current warming while we continue to work together to reduce CO2 emissions.

I am also grateful for the leadership Norway has given to the REDD-plus initiative to fight deforestation. And we know how important this is because of our common interest and concern about climate change, but also, in particular, when we think about the environment in the Arctic.

The United States, like Norway, is an Arctic nation, and we are committed to working through the Arctic Council, which will be establishing its secretariat in Tromso, to make sure we protect this incredibly precious and valuable resource. We have to be conscious of the environmental impacts of everything that may occur because of the already existing effects of global warming that now make the Arctic much more accessible.

From a strategic standpoint, the Arctic has an increasing geopolitical importance as countries vie to protect their rights and extend their influence. And we want to work with Norway and the Arctic Council to help manage these changes and to agree on what would be, in effect, the rules of the road in the Arctic, so new developments are economically sustainable and environmentally responsible toward future generations.

So all in all, this has been yet another very useful exchange of views, and I look forward to continuing it as we travel together to the north.

MODERATOR: The secretary of state and foreign minister will now take a few questions. (Inaudible) Norwegian Broadcasting.

QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, just said in Berlin that Russia does not support any side in the Syrian conflict. And he added that they do not supply weapons to parts in the civil war. What are your comments to that?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I heard that President Putin had made those comments. And of course, we are looking forward to finding a way to work with Russia to end the violence and support Kofi Annan’s six-point plan. Up until now, as you know, there has not been support for the kind of political transition that is necessary under the Annan plan. We, of course, discussed that between the foreign minister and myself, and we commend Norwegian General Robert Mood, who has brought strong leadership to the UN monitoring mission. But we recognize what a dangerous and difficult mission he and the observers have been given.

So I repeat the appeal that I have made to Russia because their position of claiming not to take a position is certainly viewed in the Security Council, in Damascus, and elsewhere as a position supporting the continuity of the Assad regime. And if Russia is prepared, as President Putin’s remarks seems to suggest, to work with the international community to come together to plan a political transition, we will certainly be ready to cooperate.

With respect to arms, we know that there has been a very consistent arms trade, even during this last year of violence in Syria, coming from Russia to Syria. We also believe that the continuing supply of arms from Russia has strengthened the Assad regime. What those arms are being used for, we cannot speak with any accuracy, but the fact that Russia has continued to sustain this trade in the face of efforts by the international community to impose sanctions and to prevent further arms flowing to the Assad regime and in particular the Syrian military has raised serious concerns on our part.

And we will be discussing this further between us. I will be – I talked with Kofi Annan two days ago. I will be speaking with my Russian counterpart. I will be meeting in Istanbul toward the end of next week with representatives of a lot of the regional countries that are deeply concerned about what’s happening. So if Russia is prepared to help us implement all of the six parts of Kofi Annan’s plan, we are prepared to work with them to do so.

MODERATOR: Scott Snyder, Voice of America.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, commercial satellite imagery suggests that Iran is sanitizing the sites at Parchin military facility ahead of any potential IAEA inspection. What does that say to you about Iran’s sincerity in its involvement in the P-5+1 talks?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, our negotiation with Iran has never been about intentions or sincerity but about actions and results. And we appreciate greatly Norway’s commitment of support to the P-5+1 negotiations, encouraging a diplomatic solution with Iran that will meet Iran’s obligations under international responsibilities. And we will continue to push forward on the P-5+1, but we are looking for concrete actions. And we will know by the next meeting in Moscow in just a few weeks whether Iran is prepared to take such actions.

So there are lots of concerns that we continue to have about their intentions, but we will judge them by their actions and we will determine whether those actions are sufficient to meet their obligations that have been imposed under the IAEA and the Security Council.

MODERATOR: (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, what is the U.S. position to Norway’s claim that the Svalbard Treaty does not regulate the Svalbard continental shelf? And what is the main interest for the U.S. in the Arctic, with its possible huge oil and gas fields?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I will not comment on the Svalbard Treaty. I will leave that to my colleague.

But let me just make very clear that the United States has the same interest in the Arctic and the work of the Arctic Council as Norway does. We believe strongly that it’s important for the five principal Arctic nations, of which we are, too, to begin working together to make plans for what will most certainly become greater ocean travel, greater exploration, therefore greater pollution, greater impact of human beings. We made a start on that at the last Arctic Council meeting in agreeing on a search and rescue protocol, which was the first ever for the Arctic, so that Russia and the rest of the Arctic nations all agreed to have a plan in place for search and rescue. We’re working on an oil spill protocol and others to come.

Because we will, of course, claim what is ours under international law, just as Norway claims what is yours, but we know that that leaves a great vast amount of the Arctic that will be a common responsibility. And I think we both feel we have a very important obligation to get ahead of that and to prepare for what is likely to come. And it’s one of the reasons why I’m going up to the north tonight and tomorrow, because I want to highlight to my own country the importance of us working together on the Arctic.

But perhaps you want to add to that.

FOREIGN MINISTER STOERE: Well, I think that on the Svalbard issue, the Secretary has been there. That’s the northern most part of Norway where you can go, so we will go one step south this time – (laughter) – on the mainland. The Svalbard Treaty is quite a unique treaty, one of the survivors of the First World War Versailles Treaty system. It is – has secured a very stable and predictable and sustainable way of managing the very high north.

On some of these issues, the United States has reserved its views, which is a diplomatic expression for stating its views, taking care of its interests. There is no dispute on this, and I believe that it’s Norway’s responsibility to safeguard its interests.

And as the Secretary said, we both have rights and obligations. And one of Norway’s obligation is to secure law and order in these waters so there can be fishing and other kind of activities which correspond with the fragile environment of the archipelago. We have managed that so far. There are about 40 signatories to the Svalbard Treaty, which grants equal rights to economic operators operating inside the territorial waters and on the islands. And by doing that in a predictable way, we contribute to that stability. That’s why we talk about high north, low tension. And that we secure through predictable and long-term policies.

MODERATOR: And last question is to Arshad Mohammed, Reuters.

QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, there is a report that in China a Chinese state security official has been arrested on suspicion of having sold information to the U.S. CIA. In particular, the allegations are that he gave information about China’s foreign espionage to the United States. Can you comment on the veracity of that?

And regardless of what you can say about that issue, are you aware of anything in the last six months or so in U.S.-China relations, a period that has included the crisis over Cheng Guangcheng, the disagreements over how to handle Syria, the perennial other issues like currency and so on – are you aware of any issues that have come up that have made it not possible for the United States and China to work together where they have shared interests?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, Arshad, I’m not going to comment on the report that you just cited.

But as to the second question, the answer is no. We have a very important, comprehensive relationship with China that is inclusive of a very broad range of important concerns. We cooperate on – in many areas. As you know, the Strategic and Economic Dialogue was established to bring together the strategic and economic parts of our relationship because there’s a lot of overlap. When I was just in China for the fourth S&ED earlier last month, we had a very robust and productive set of meetings.

Now, as you well know, that doesn’t mean we agree on every issue, because we certainly do not, but I don’t know any country we agree with on every issue. It doesn’t mean that we won’t have problems from time to time in our relationship. We do, and we do with most countries. But we each recognize that it is in our mutual interest to sustain this positive, cooperative, comprehensive relationship that was committed to by the presidents of both countries.

So we will continue working on the broad range of issues that are of mutual interest, and we will deal with problems as we have in the last month as they arise. But the goal for our relationship with China is to ensure that we defy history, as I’ve said both in speeches at home and repeated and had actually repeated back to me by all of my Chinese interlocutors. It has never happened that an established preeminent power and a rising power have been able to find a way to not only coexist, but cooperate. We intend to make history with our relationship with China.

The United States intends to remain a preeminent power. We have made it absolutely clear that we are a Pacific power, and we will continue to have a strong presence in the Asia Pacific. But we are also looking for as many ways to cooperate as we can, because we think it’s in our interests, and we happen to think it’s in the interests of the world to see the United States and China have a peaceful, positive relationship. And that’s our plan, and that’s what we are doing every single day. Thank you.

MODERATOR: Thank you, everyone. Our time is up. See you in Tromso.

SECRETARY CLINTON: (Laughter.) Onward.

PRN: 2012/ T64-04