US, Denmark reaffirm commitment to further strengthen ties

F.P. Report

WASHINGTON: Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofdo has said that U.S. is Denmark’s friend, close ally, and strategic partner and adding that Secretary Blinken has kindly taken me up on my suggestion to visit Denmark. 

He added that U.S. is back in the Paris Climate accord, of which Denmark is a strong defender.  The U.S. is back in the UN Human Rights Council, of which Denmark is currently a member.  You are back in the World Trade Organization with Denmark, also aims to reform.

Danish FM added that during the meeting with Secretary Blinken, we covered a range of issues, from international security to trade policy, from Afghanistan and our 20-years long military presence, which we now are winding down, the Danish leadership in the NATO mission in Iraq, from the Arctic and the North Atlantic, to the situation in Israel and Palestine, and how to defend our common democratic values and global human rights.

He further added that we focused also on global climate challenges and cooperation on the green transition, where Denmark has a lot to offer globally as well as in the U.S.  And we have reaffirmed our close partnership and cooperation between the United States and Denmark on the full range of diplomatic and security policy issues.

Similarly, Secretary Blinken also spoke on the occasion, he said I also very much want to thank Prime Minister Frederiksen for our time together this morning, which was extremely productive.  And I was honored to visit with Her Majesty the Queen and his Royal Highness the Crown Prince as well.

He added that before speaking in greater depth about the partnership with Denmark, I do want to talk briefly about the ongoing situation in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. The United States remains greatly concerned by the violence, by the escalating violence – hundreds of people killed or injured, including children being pulled from the rubble.  Palestinians and Israelis, like people everywhere, have the right to live in safety and security.  This is not an Israeli privilege or a Palestinian privilege; it’s a human right.  And the current violence has ripped it away.

Blinken added that  President Biden’s been in touch with Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas.  I spent my own flight on – yesterday to Copenhagen on the phone with regional leaders, including from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, as well as with my counterpart in France, discussing the urgent need to end the violence.  And we’ll continue to do that later this afternoon.

He added that further, we call on all parties to ensure the protection of civilians – especially children – to respect international humanitarian law, to protect medical facilities, protect media organizations, and protect UN facilities where civilians are desperately seeking shelter.  And we are ready to lend support if the parties seek a ceasefire.

Regarding the US relations with Denmark, Blinken said that Denmark and the United States are allies and partners on virtually every major issue facing our countries, facing the world, facing our citizens. 

He further added that Denmark is a world leader in both its green ambitions and its green technology, especially wind energy, as Prime Minister Frederiksen highlighted at the Leaders Summit just a couple weeks ago, which she participated in.  We’re proud of our new partnership with Denmark on decarbonizing the shipping sector. 

Secretary Blinken further added that together, we’re committed deeply to the NATO Alliance, which we agree is the bedrock of transatlantic security. We’ve had American and Danish troops serving shoulder to shoulder in virtually every NATO mission.  Denmark now leads the effort in Iraq. We’ve worked closely together on the coalition to counter Daesh, and, of course, in Afghanistan with a long and strong partnership on security as well as economic and humanitarian support.

He added that we also share concerns about the threat that Russia poses to Europe in light of the recent military buildup on the border with Ukraine, and the threat to European energy security posed by the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.  We share concerns about the challenges that China poses to our interests and values, including the rules-based order that makes our shared security and prosperity possible.

And we share a commitment to Arctic security.  We very much welcome Denmark’s recent decision to invest more than $240 million in North Atlantic and Arctic defense in coordination with the governments of Greenland and the Faroe Islands.  And we’ll continue our close cooperation in the Arctic Council, where we’re headed soon, to ensure that the Arctic region is one that is free of conflict, where nations act responsibly and act together to advance economic development, sustainable economic development, to care for the environment, to respect as well the interests and well-being and development of indigenous communities.

All of these matters will be on the agenda that we’ll join together in Reykjavik.  On these issues and so many more, our countries stand together and work together.  As the only country that belongs to NATO, the European Union, and the Arctic Council, Denmark consistently plays a leadership role in regional and global affairs.  And we’re grateful for that.

There’s a Danish proverb that feels quite fitting today, and I quote: “The road to a friend’s house is never long.”  So I’m thrilled to be able to visit our friend Denmark today.  It is great to be back.  And I’m looking forward to our countries continuing a close partnership for many years to come.  Thank you.

While answering to question regarding Israel, when it comes to the strike in Gaza, first, I was relieved that no one from the journalism community in that strike was hurt and people were able to leave the building safely. As you know, I think, President Biden and other members of the administration have raised directly our concerns with our Israeli counterparts about the safety and security of journalists operating in Gaza.  And we have stressed the need for their protection.

Blinken added that shortly after the strike, we did request additional details regarding the justification for it.  I wouldn’t want to weigh in on intelligence matters in – in this forum.  It’s not my place.  I will leave it to others to characterize if any information has been shared and our assessment of that information.

Secretary Blinken added that Denmark is stepping up and the investment we talked about, about $240 million in what is called – in the terminology domain awareness, basically having the – a capacity in place through – people through technology to know who’s doing what, where, at any given time, is usually important to maintaining security. And we very much appreciate the role that Denmark is playing in helping to do that. And so I think as well, one of the things that we’re working on together is heading toward the NATO leaders’ summit in just about a month’s time, where among other things, NATO is going to be hopefully adapting a program for NATO between now and 2030, revising some of its strategic concepts. And that has to include making sure that we have in place the appropriate resources and assets to sustain security in the North Atlantic. And the two of us are helping to lead those efforts, and Denmark is a critical partner in all of that.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  So I think we’re all tracking the need for allies and partners to achieve, as was agreed back in the Wales summit, these goals.  And I think again this is an important step in dedicating resources to situational awareness in the North Atlantic, and we continue to look to our partners to continue to make progress in dedicating the appropriate percentage of their budget to defense.

Regarding the Arctic, Danish FM Kofod said that it is North Atlantic – it is important with the close partnership with Greenland and Faroe Islands, United States, and then, of course, Kingdom of Denmark.  We have a unique cooperation.  We are both – we will move after this meeting to Arctic Council, which is an architecture that has also ensured that we have a situation of non-conflict – of constructive cooperation around Arctic issues and an aim of also low tension in the Arctic region.

That said, we have seen Russian – some of the military bases in the northeastern flank that was closed off at the end of the Cold War has been re-opened.  They have mainly defensive capabilities but also some offensive capabilities.  And we see increased activities in the Arctic region.  And I think it’s – it has to be done with a due diligence that we are ready to ensure to see what is going on in the Arctic region, and therefore we have this package where we have surveillance, we have other capacities to see what is going on to protect our sovereignty and our interest.  But we have a unique cooperation and we want to safeguard it as that, so when we go to Reykjavik in a few days, this is a aim that we share.