Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Stockholm, Sweden
June 3, 2012

PRIME MINISTER REINFELDT: So, good afternoon and welcome, everybody. It is a great pleasure and privilege to welcome Secretary of State, Mrs. Hillary Clinton, to Stockholm and to Sweden. I must admit that yesterday we had the coldest day in Sweden since 1928, and I have apologized for this to the Madam Secretary. But we tried to compensate it with the warmth of our relation. Sweden and the United States are tied together in so many ways: through history, through trade and investments, and also by countless personal relations across the Atlantic. This visit, of course, gives us an opportunity to discuss a lot of issues. During the day Madam Secretary has been out on a boat trip, meeting with the Minister for Defense and Foreign Minister, and I think covered a lot of the items related to security and foreign issues. So I have been trying to focus on two issues, namely on Syria and on the economic crisis of Europe.

First, on Syria. We have, of course, discussed the tragedy now taking place in Syria and agreed on the urgent need to stop the terrible violence by the Assad regime against his own people. The international pressure on the regime to stop the killings must be maintained, including by sanctions. Those guilty of crimes must be held accountable, and we must continue to work to get humanitarian aid to people in need, and, of course, to support the political transition in line with the Kofi Annan Plan.

Secondly, on Europe, we had an in-depth discussion on the economic situation in Europe. And this is, of course, also very important for the United States because we trade a lot between our two continents. It is clear that the economic situation in the European Union varies significantly from one country to another. In Sweden and in many other northern European countries, we have implemented structure reforms for more than 20 years, and resulting in sound public finances and better growth figures. We sometimes even talk about a northern European growth corridor.

At the same time we talked sometimes about the troubled situation in part of central and southern Europe as if it was only related to a demand problem. But to me it is also deeply rooted in challenges relating to an ongoing financial crisis in part of Europe, a debt crisis that is, of course, a consequence of poor public finances and still also problems with competitiveness throughout Europe. And we will, of course, have a lot of talks and discussions and needful reforms to be able to solve a lot of these problems.

I would also like, at the end, to underline that we share a strong commitment to human rights. We are jointly commemorating Raoul Wallenberg this year.

And finally, I want to thank you very much, Madam Secretary, for excellent discussion, and for coming to visit us. Thank you.

FOREIGN MINISTER BILDT: Let me (inaudible) that we have an excellent and stellar relationship. We meet fairly frequently on different levels and have a dialogue on a lot of different issues. Highlight two issues out of the discussions today. First off, the Council, where I think there has been -- we could even say two days of discussion, because there was coordinated with my (inaudible) colleague discussions of (inaudible), discussions we've had here midway in the Swedish chairmanship of the Arctic Council. So we reviewed progress, and agree on some of the things that we should jointly achieve by the end of that chairmanship in May of next year.

Second issue, Net freedom, where we are together building a global coalition for the freedom of the Net. We've been working on that for quite some time, and we are focusing our discussion today quite a lot on what we are doing within the Human Rights Council, why we will go forward, not only the United States and Sweden, but we are building a fairly broad coalition to present a resolution draft on the principles for Net freedom. That will be the first time ever that these issues are really brought on the international agenda to take a resolution with all of the effects that that is going to have. So those two issues I just want to highlight, apart from having covered mostly everything else.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, it is a great personal pleasure for me to be here once again in Sweden, and to have the opportunity that I did today for in-depth discussions with the Foreign Minister and also the Defense Minister, then to be able to meet with the Minister of the Environment, and now to have this opportunity, Prime Minister, to meet with you. And I too want to thank you for the great cooperation that we have on so many important issues, and to compliment you on yet another Eurovision win. I have to say I felt a little euphoria, myself, being here, despite the weather.

I also think that the ongoing consultations which we have on a regular basis between us is particularly essential, as we face so many difficult issues around the world. And Sweden brings its diplomatic heft and its development expertise to nearly every corner of the globe. And at the Chicago Summit we were pleased to welcome Sweden as one of NATO's strongest partners, standing with us in Afghanistan as we begin the transition to full Afghan responsibility for security by 2014, as well as working for the betterment of the Afghan people into the future.

In fact, we know that Sweden has been involved in Afghanistan for more than 30 years. And your development efforts, your civilian assistance, has been and will continue to be crucial. We also greatly appreciated Sweden's vital role in NATO's mission to protect the Libyan people. And we are grateful for Sweden's offer to work with NATO through the Nordic Center for Gender in Military Operations.

The Arctic Council, which the Minister mentioned, is of very particular importance, as we cooperate and think over the horizon to meet the new opportunities as well as the new challenges that are posed by what's happening in the Arctic today. And I applaud Sweden's leadership on Internet freedom issues. We have fought for a very long time on behalf of the right to free expression and free assembly. And those rights belong in the Internet as much as they do in the so-called real world.

As the Prime Minister said, we discussed the ongoing atrocities in Syria. We are joined in our condemnation of what Assad and the regime are doing to perpetuate vicious and systematic attacks, and strongly support a political transition that will give the Syrian people a better future. We have a great commitment to the Kofi Annan Plan, because the six points are the ones that have to be addressed, and we will continue to look for ways to do that.

I also appreciated discussing Iran with the Foreign Minister. We share a vision for a diplomatic solution that sees Iran live up to its international commitments. And we appreciate the role that Sweden plays in pushing Iran to respect and protect the human rights of its own people.

And when it comes to all of the large challenges that know no boundaries, such as climate change, or gender equality, or Internet freedom, it is true that Sweden is not just on the front lines, but leading. And I am greatly appreciative for all of that work, and look forward to enhancing it in the months and years ahead.

Finally, I would like to recognize that this is the 100th anniversary of Raoul Wallenberg's birth. And he is a personal hero of mine, and a great public servant and diplomat who proved what can be accomplished when conviction meets action. And we have joined together to honor his legacy and his spirit of moral leadership. Acting to defend human rights, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, our shared democratic values, America could not ask for a better partner and friend than the government and people of Sweden. Thank you, Prime Minister.

MODERATOR: Okay, we will open up for a couple of questions (inaudible).

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, firstly, how do you see the possibilities of a United Security Council and harsher actions in Syria? And secondly, will you -- and how could you -- contribute to the re-election campaign of President Obama?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I have to say the second question is easy for me. I am obviously a very strong supporter, and will continue to be. I believe that the President will be and deserves to be re-elected. But in my current position I cannot participate in electoral politics. So I am unable to do more than cast my vote as a citizen and stand very strongly on behalf of the values that the President represents.

With Syria, I think that it's important to ensure that we have a unified voice in the international community. We certainly have done that in order to increase pressure on Assad, including going back to the UN Security Council, seeking further action, including a Chapter VII resolution. I will be meeting in Istanbul on Wednesday night with a number of the countries in the region that are particularly anxious about what is happening in Syria, fearful that we could see a full-fledged civil war with consequences that would bring in the rest of the region in ways that could be quite dangerous and are certainly unpredictable.

I will also continue my outreach and work with the Russians. I have spoken in the last 48, 72 hours with both Kofi Annan and with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. My message to the Foreign Minister was very simple and straightforward: We all have to intensify our efforts to achieve a political transition, and Russia has to be at the table helping that to occur. The Syrian people want and deserve change, and that should, insofar as possible, come about through peaceful means. And it must be change that represents the rights and dignity of all Syrians, Sunnis, Alawites, Druze, Kurds, Christians, women, all tribes. Every single Syrian, whether they are in the majority or the minority, should be reassured that they have a better future through a democratic process that could lead to them being able to, in effect, govern themselves for the first time.

So, we have to intensify our support on the Annan Plan. And I know that Sweden is certainly doing its part, and we will do everything we can.

MODERATOR: (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: Yes, thank you. Madam Secretary, just on your conversation with Minister Lavrov yesterday, while your message is clear, I wanted to ask you if you were able to secure a commitment from him to work together specifically on the political transition, and one that would see Assad leave power. Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, in my conversation with him, I made it very clear that there would be no point to any meeting unless it included all elements of Kofi Annan's plan, and that certainly means we have to focus on a path forward for a political transition.

Assad's departure does not have to be a precondition, but it should be an outcome so that the people of Syria have a chance to express themselves. In my conversations with Foreign Minister Lavrov he himself has referred to the Yemen example. And it took a lot of time and effort with a number of countries who were involved at the table, working to achieve a political transition. And we would like to see the same occur in Syria.

MODERATOR: Now the Swedish news wire, (inaudible).

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, how worried are you about the economic crisis in Europe? Do you think the Euro will survive?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, of course, the United States has expressed our concerns about the economy and the difficulties that are faced here in Europe. It is something that we care deeply about, because we highly value our relationships with our European partners. Also because we know that in order to fully recover from the economic downturns of the last years, Europe has to be strong and operating at full speed once again. So we support the need for changes to be made in order to improve Europe's competitiveness to deal with a lot of the leftover issues that have not yet been addressed in various countries.

But it is truly up to the Europeans themselves, all of you, to make the decisions going forward. The United States will certainly do everything we can to support the difficult decisions that lie ahead for Europe.

MODERATOR: And the last question goes to AFP (inaudible).

QUESTION: Thank you. Madam Secretary, my question is on Iran. Today Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini -- (inaudible), sorry -- threatened Israel with a response like thunder if it engaged in a misstep. And he also rejected (inaudible) Western charges that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons. So that would seem to bode poorly for the upcoming talks in Moscow. I'm wondering what happens if those talks fail, and what are the stakes for Iran here?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, let me say that I have not had a chance to review what was said. But I don't draw any conclusions from that statement with respect to the potential success of the talks in Moscow. I think there is nothing new in what you've just reported. Obviously, the Iranians have consistently said they would take actions to defend themselves. That's not news. They have also made it clear in many statements -- most recently in the fatwa that was issued by the Supreme Leader -- that they don't seek nuclear weapons, that they have no such program.

Now, the best way for Iran to fulfill their obligations and to dismiss the worries that the rest of the world has about their intentions and actions is to come to the table in Moscow in a few weeks and begin the serious work that has to take place in order to reach a diplomatic resolution. And we have always known that that was the path forward. The Iranians have come to the table. We expect to see them in Moscow. We hope that they will come prepared to offer very specific actions they are willing to take.

So, I have long ago separated the words from the actions in dealing with regimes across the globe. Many, many countries and their leaders say a lot of things for domestic purposes, to lay down markers, to make their views clear to different audiences. But you negotiate with the very hard work that our diplomats are doing. And we look forward to seeing what the Iranians actually bring to the table in Moscow. We want to see a diplomatic resolution. President Obama, from the beginning of his administration has sought that. We now have an opportunity to achieve it, and we hope that it is an opportunity that is not lost, for everyone's sake.

MODERATOR: Okay. That was the last question. Thank you.

PRN: 2012/T64-07