Remarks With Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
February 26, 2015

SECRETARY KERRY: Are we still morning? We are for a few more minutes. (Laughter.) Good morning, everybody. This is a great pleasure for me because Borge Brende and I have become really good friends in the course of our work together. And Norway is such an extraordinary partner. There is nowhere or anything that is an issue where Norway is not playing a role. And really, it is a pleasure for us to have a partner who is always so willing to step up on all of the major crises that we’re currently challenging.

Borge was here for our summit on Countering Violent Extremism. Norway is making major contributions to the Syria conflict, helping to provide humanitarian assistance. Norway is a critical partner with respect to the protection of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine. We work with Norway on Middle East peace. They are constantly engaged in helping to both support the rights of Israelis to be free from violence, but also the rights of Palestinians to have a better life, to be able to receive the humanitarian aid that they need.

So it is safe to say that on every major conflict in the world today, Norway – not the biggest country in the world, but the biggest in heart and in commitment – is always by our side and is a superb ally. We have a lot to talk about today in the context of the efforts against Daesh, the efforts to deal with Libya, the Maghreb, the Sahel, the Arabian Peninsula. There’s no dearth of challenges right now. And Minister Brende is constantly traveling to try to help leverage the values of Norway and the interests of Norway to help bring about stability and peace.

So I’m very grateful. Thank you for being here, and we’ll have the opportunity to talk in a few minutes. Thank you.

FOREIGN MINISTER BRENDE: Thank you. Thank you, Secretary Kerry. Thank you, John. Thank you for the very kind words and thank you for your friendship. We have developed a genuine, close collaboration, U.S. being our most closest ally. This is important for us in a time where we see a new security landscape in Europe. We feel that what has taken place in Ukraine and the breach of international law is something very serious. And what we have agreed also in the NATO context when it comes to also making sure that all the allies are really reassured that we have a full NATO solidarity – I’m thinking about our Baltic friends – is very important.

And we will, in the coming weeks, also be very clear with the Russians on the “Minsk plus” if there is any more violence of what has – violation of what has been agreed, it needs to have implications for Russia.

Thank you, John, for your leadership on the summit last week on Countering Violent Extremism. The U.S. leadership now and your personal engagement in getting this coalition against ISIL in place is extremely important. And I think we’ve done this in a good and strategic way, getting all the Arab countries on board, a new government in Baghdad – more inclusive, and now starting the real fight against ISIL and making also advances in Iraq.

Also, the U.S. leadership and your personal commitment to a two-state solution and peace between Israel and Palestine is very important. And after the Israeli elections, I hope we can re-engage and see again new initiatives from the U.S. side. We will support as much as possible to set up the donor group for Palestine. And we will, of course, also follow up on Libya, on Maghreb, and all the present issues that you are seeing.

And we are also looking forward to your chairmanship now in the Arctic Council. We know you care so much about the environment, oceans, and the fight against climate change. And this U.S. chairmanship will be very important.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, my friend, and I’m looking forward to traveling to Norway and being up in the north.

FOREIGN MINISTER BRENDE: Thank you, and we are so much looking forward to welcoming you to Svalbard --


FOREIGN MINISTER BRENDE: -- and also this frozen vessel into the ice that’s on the front page of National Geographic now. It’s to (inaudible).

SECRETARY KERRY: I look forward to it.


SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you. Thank you all.