FW: In-town pool report #3

From: Freedman, Dan [mailto:xxx@email.com]
Sent: Friday, May 13, 2016 1:11 PM
To: Velz, Peter T. EOP/WHO ; Barnes, Desiree N. N. EOP/WHO ; Gabriel, Brian A. EOP/WHO
Subject: In-town pool report #3

Pool Report #3

After a considerable wait, pool was ushered into the state dining room a little after noon. President Obama sat in his customary position at table center, with Secretary of State John Kerry and National Security Adviser Susan Rice on his left. The president and prime ministers of the Nordic nations sat on his right and along two perpendicular wings at the ends of the main table. Also present were the foreign ministers.

President’s subdued remarks were a reprise of his Grand Foyer greeting this morning. He praised the nations for their respective roles in helping to address the refugee crisis and said he looks forward to their participation in an upcoming summit on refugees in September. He also said the nations and the United States are united in their concern over Russia, and pointed to an upcoming NATO summit as a forum for further discussion.

(Check quotes against transcript) We nations are ``united in our concerns about Russia’s aggressive military presence’’ in Ukraine and elsewhere,’’ he said. He praised their commitment to the effort to control climate change, especially given the countries’ mutual proximity to the Arctic region.

The president also talked about mutual interests in combating poverty, and health issues.

The only laugh he got this time around was when he suggested the discussion perhaps lacked the fireworks of other parleys with foreign leaders, because there was ``too much agreement.’’

Then it was the turn of Stefan Löfven, Prime Minister of Sweden, to speak. He praised the president’s leadership on climate change, and bringing health care to the U.S. via the Affordable Care Act.

``I applaud President Obama for his instrumental role in (pushing) a climate-change agenda.’’

He quoted President Obama as saying ``if only everyone could be like Scandinavia, it would all be easy.’’ Pooler not sure of the source of that quote.

The pool was ushered out amid a few questions, much to the amusement of the visiting Nordic delegations. The president exchanged some knowing glances and then offered a table-clearing-type hand gesture that seemed to say ``OK, time to leave.’’ Shortly after, the president and the Nordic leaders walked along the South Portico astride the Rose Garden. The president appeared to walk with Sigurður (Sigurdur) Ingi Jóhannsson, Prime Minister of the Republic of Iceland, who just took office after his predecessor resigned because of the Panama Papers scandal.

Dan Freedman

Hearst Newspapers Washington Bureau

-Albany Times Union

-Connecticut Post

-Danbury News-Times

-Greenwich Time

-Norwalk Hour

-Stamford Advocate

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Twitter: @danfreedma

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