US President Barack Obama was greeted warmly by Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt in the morning of September 4 in Stockholm. Obama is in Sweden on a 24-hour official visit, the first time an incumbent US president is paying a bilateral visit to Sweden.
Reinfeldt and Obama discussed bilateral relations, the global political and economic situation, trade relations, including the ongoing negotiations on a free trade agreement between the EU and the US, climate and energy policies and other foreign policy issues.
The Syria crisis dominated the bilateral talks and press conference at Rosenbad, the seat of Swedish government.
Sweden has voiced opposition to military strikes against the Damascus regime. Obama stepped off Air Force One at Stockholm’s Arlanda Airport fresh from efforts in Washington to secure bipartisan support for military action to punish President Bashar al-Assad for an alleged chemical weapons attack on a Damascus suburb last month.
Sweden is a stop as Obama embarks on a journey to take him to the G20 summit in Russia’s Saint Petersburg, where White House officials said he would hold meetings with the president of France, the main foreign backer of US strikes on Syria, as well as the leaders of China and Japan.
The US already cooperates with Sweden on green energy solutions and the Swedish environmental technology sector. Another important item on the agenda is the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) free-trade negotiations between the EU and the US, but this is more a matter of the US seeking Swedish support to persuade the rest of Europe to agree to a contract
The meeting was followed by a joint press conference at which Obama and Reinfeldt issued a joint statement, which reads in part:
This is a special year in the relationship between Sweden and the United States, as it marks 375 years since the establishment of the first Swedish settlement “New Sweden” in the United States and 230 years since the first free trade agreement between our countries was signed. Today over four million Americans claim Swedish heritage. Business ties flourish between our countries. And our work together around the world magnifies the positive impact we can have when facing common challenges in pursuit of our shared agenda.
We confirmed our determination to continue to promote growth and jobs, counter climate change and accelerate the transition to a sustainable energy future, expand trade and investment, work for international peace and security, and promote global development, conflict prevention and disarmament. President Obama expressed his appreciation to the Prime Minister for arranging the dinner with regional leaders, allowing for consultations with Nordic colleagues on a number of shared challenges.
We looked forward to the opportunity to commemorate Raoul Wallenberg this afternoon and pay tribute to a man who chose not to be indifferent and to rise to a higher moral calling. We remember and revere Raoul Wallenberg and his courageous deeds saving thousands of Hungarian Jews from the Holocaust.
Today we reinforced our support for the efforts of the Swedish-American Green Alliance (SAGA) to further enhance our co-operation to enable the transition to a sustainable energy future. The priorities of SAGA are developing smart grids to ensure efficient transmission of electricity, developing renewable energy sources, improving energy efficiency, developing sustainable cities, and co-operation to facilitate innovation and commercialization of sustainable energy technologies.
As founding members of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, Sweden and the United States are pleased that the Coalition, as a complement to the work on long-lived climate pollutants, is already working to catalyze significant global reductions of short-lived climate pollutants. We agreed to redouble our efforts and invite others to join to take full advantage of the Coalition’s potential, including through innovative approaches to financing methane abatement.
This historic first bilateral visit of an American president to Sweden underscores not only the importance of the U.S.-Swedish relationship, but also the bonds between the United States and all the Nordic countries and the globally significant relationship between America and Europe