FW: In-town Pool Report #1

From: Freedman, Dan [mailto:xxx@email.com]
Sent: Friday, May 13, 2016 10:27 AM
To: Velz, Peter T. EOP/WHO ; Allen, Jessica L. EOP/WHO ; Barnes, Desiree N. N. EOP/WHO
Subject: In-town Pool Report #1

POOL Report #1

Forced by the chance of inclement weather into the White House Grand Foyer, the President and First Lady welcomed Sauli Niinistö, President of the Republic of Finland; Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway; Stefan Löfven, Prime Minister of Sweden; Lars Løkke Rasmussen, Prime Minister of Denmark; and Sigurður (Sigurdur) Ingi Jóhannsson, Prime Minister of the Republic of Iceland, to the White House for a U.S.-Nordic Leaders Summit. The President, Sauli Niinistö of Finland, and Erna Solberg of Norway delivered opening remarks.

The president wore a dark blue suit and light blue tie. The First Lady appeared in an asymmetrical black jacket and a whitish-silvery modern-art type print dress. (Pooler is not a fashion critic.) The ceremony got underway about 20 minutes late at 9:21.

In attendance in rows of seats to the president’s right were Secretary of State John Kerry, National Security Adviser Susan Rice, and members of the Nordic countries diplomatic corps.

Seated immediately to president’s right were the presidents and prime ministers of Finland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Iceland. The first spouses sat to president’s left next to FLOTUS, including Sindre Finnes, husband of Norway’s prime minister.

Pretty much the standard greetings for long-time allies who share democratic, open-society values. (Check all remarks against transcript.) The president tentatively said ``welcome’’ in the respective languages. He said the summit is ``an opportunity for Michelle and me to return some of the warmth we received’’ in visits to Copenhagen and Stockholm. ``They are extraordinary countries and for our purposes today, extraordinary friends.’’

The president noted the waves of migration from the Nordic countries to the United States and how Leif Ericsson landed in the New World a thousand years ago. As democracies, ``we share the same values.’’ The people of these nations maintain their optimism ``despite not getting much sun.’’ The countries shared values and political outlooks include free markets, effective safety nets, and concern over climate change (especially in terms of the Arctic).

The Nordic countries ``consistently punch above their weight’’ in terms of national security, economics. The summit is especially important because ``we don’t want to take our best friends for granted.’’ The president joked about ``Game of Thrones’’ and how Nordic languages sound like what’s spoken on the show to American ears. But he hailed the many products that are commonplace on our shores, including furniture and Leggos, Also, ``Finland has the most heavy metal bands in the world’’ per capita.

The prime ministers of Finland and Norway also offered greetings. They were a bit hard to hear because of heavy accents and not-so-great acoustics. But in sum, they returned the president’s compliments concerning shared values, democratic traditions. The PM of Norway said her country looked to the US in 1814 to draft their Constitution. Also, she said, there are more Norwegian-Americans in this country than in all of present-day Norway.

The presidents, prime ministers and spouses exited through the Blue Room to begin talks.

Per the White House:

This summit will be an opportunity to continue our close collaboration with the Nordic countries on a range of issues, including countering terrorism and violent extremism, protecting the environment, coordinating on Arctic issues, promoting the Global Health Security Agenda, advancing sustainable development, enhancing nuclear security, providing humanitarian assistance, and addressing the migration and refugee crisis in a humane and orderly way.

This summit will deepen U.S.-Nordic cooperation while highlighting America’s continued commitment to European security, trans-Atlantic trade, and the promotion of common democratic values.

Dan Freedman

Hearst Newspapers Washington Bureau
cell: xxx-xxx-xxxx

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