Remarks With Norwegian Foreign Minister Børge Brende

Remarks by John Kerry -Secretary of State
Treaty Room – Washington, DC

men shaking hands    (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
State Secretary John Kerry shakes hands with Norway’s Foreign Minister Borge Brende during their meeting at the State Department in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015.

SECRETARY KERRY: Good afternoon, everybody. I’m sorry to keep you waiting, but (inaudible) special for me to be able to welcome Foreign Minister Børge Brende from Norway here to Washington, and to underscore that there really is no country that I can think of that does as much on so many issues as Norway. They are a NATO ally and partner of ours, but they are front and center on all of the critical issues of peace in the world. We are working together on the counter-ISIL cooperation. They are in Iraq with us. They are also present and important to Afghanistan. They’ve been front and center with respect to Ukraine and holding the line on accountability and the implementation of the Minsk agreement.

Børge is the chair – Norway is the chair of the ad hoc liaison committee on the issues of Israel-Palestine and has an enormous interest in what is happening currently in Jerusalem as well as always in trying to advance peace in the region. And we have a great deal to talk about. We most recently also have been strong allies on an important initiative on the oceans. And as everybody knows or should know and are beginning to learn, our oceans are threatened, our fisheries are threatened, and global climate change is having a profound impact on the oceans in terms of acidification, the killing of fisheries and coral reefs. So we are working together on this issue to raise awareness, to increase enforcement to deal with unregulated and unreported and illegal fishing.

So there’s a lot that Norway and the United States cooperate on, and we are really pleased to have as effective and as competent a partner as Norway has proven to be in so many ways. So it’s a pleasure for me to welcome you here today. Thank you, Børge.

FOREIGN MINISTER BRENDE: Thank you, Secretary Kerry. Thank you (inaudible) warm words. You yourself and the U.S. being such a friend of Norway, we collaborating on very important issues together. Thank you for your personal leadership in many of these issues, on Afghanistan, where we got a government. We are now together supporting this government. We are also collaborating very closely on Israel-Palestine. We need your continued leadership to calming down things now in this very important conflict. And also looking forward to really see a two-state solution materialized.

Then on Syria, I’m looking forward to talk about how to deal with the latest, with Russians now stepping up their support for Assad – possibly making this war longer. And as you know, the refugee crisis and the migration is now top of the agenda in Europe. Very, very difficult. So thank you for receiving me again and thank you for the unique friendship.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, my friend. Happy you’re here.

FOREIGN MINISTER BRENDE: Thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you very much.

QUESTION: Secretary Kerry, may we ask you a question? I just wanted (inaudible). How do you see the renewed tensions in Israel and the Palestinian territory? (Inaudible) traveling to meet with Netanyahu tomorrow?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, let me – yes, I am traveling to meet and we are going to talk about that now. I think I’d rather wait until I have the meeting. I’ve spoken on it in the last days. Obviously it’s an enormous concern, but not just to Israelis and Palestinians and people in the region – to everybody in the world. There’s not a place either of us go where people do not ask us about the way forward with respect to the Middle East. So we have a lot to talk about and I’ll share thoughts with you after the meetings. Thank you.

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