Briefing with Senior State Department Official to Traveling Press

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Briefing with Senior State Department Official to Traveling Press

Office of the Spokesperson

ERT Copenhagen, Denmark

MODERATOR:  So this, we’ll just do on background, senior State Department official, (inaudible) preview the first stop in Copenhagen and take some questions.

(Chit-chat.)

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL:  So obviously the first half of the trip is Copenhagen, Denmark.  And I think we’re all aware that the Kingdom of Denmark, which, of course, includes also Greenland and the Faroe Islands, is a very important ally.  We’ve actually had diplomatic relations with Denmark for 220 years, so that just underscores sort of the shared democratic values, commitment to peace, NATO Ally, from which we get a lot.  And in fact, Denmark, of course, is the only country that is a member of NATO, the EU, and the Arctic Council.  So a lot to talk about with them.  They were participants at the recent democracy summit, and that sort of highlighted some of the important role the Danes are playing in the rules-based order internationally.

Secretary will start the day meeting with the prime minister, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen.  She’ll have a – bilat with her, and then move on to meet separately with the with the foreign minister.  He’ll have an audience with the queen, Queen Margrethe, and the crown prince, just a short meeting there.  And (inaudible) that we’ve been doing these first 120 or so days, revitalizing, repairing relations with allies, particularly in the transatlantic sphere.  Of course, he’s had a chance to see the foreign minister at the NATO Ministerial previously.  They’ve talked on the margins of that.

Uniquely, again, although we’ve done it before, we’ll have a quadrilateral foreign ministers meeting.  So the second day, we’ll join Foreign Minister Kofod, the Danish foreign minister, but also the foreign ministers of Greenland and the Faroe Islands, for a chance to talk about the broad array of issues with all of them.  We have, obviously, security issues, economic issues, the whole range.  And as you know, we’ve been pursuing over the last couple of years relations both with Greenland and with the Faroe Islands in terms of economic opportunities.  We opened our consulate, of course, in Nuuk, and we’ll talk later in the trip as we prepare for the Greenland stop as well.

QUESTION:  How much of the cleanup about the relationship has to do with reassuring them that the U.S. isn’t interested in buying Greenland?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL:  I think we’ll underscore just all of the things that we’re doing with Greenland as a part of the Kingdom of Denmark, and we’re doing that with the foreign minister of Denmark itself.  Of course, the Faroe Islands come along as well.  We did a lot of work in the past year working on this broad agreement for things we can do with the Faroe Islands.

There will be a – I mentioned already the bilateral meeting with the foreign minister, and the Secretary should have a chance to get some information on some of the scientific and technological things going on in Denmark, particularly related to climate, which is of great interest to all of us.  The – their climate thing, stuff they’re doing that’s really in the high-tech sphere in terms of quantum devices and things like that.  Denmark is a leading partner in that, and so we’ll have good opportunities there.

I think that kind of wraps up the day, right?

QUESTION:  Can we ask you about —

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL:  He’ll, of course, see the embassy team, do a standard kind of meet and greet with the embassy team, which is nice.  So I think this one is actually in person.

MODERATOR:  Oh, is it?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL:  I think so, yeah.  We’ll have to check that, but I think it’s appropriately distanced and all that, but a chance to see in person, and whether they’ll – some people may join virtually as well.

QUESTION:  Can we ask you about the Lavrov meeting?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL:  Well, that’s in Iceland, which is the next stop.  So we could talk about that on the next leg of the trip, but –

QUESTION: Since you’re here —

QUESTION:  What would, for you, success or positive meeting look like?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL:  I think it’s about testing the proposition of working on areas where we have mutual interests, which is what the President has laid out and what the Secretary has said before.  As you know, we’ve made very clear from the first day of the administration that we seek a more stable relationship, a more predictable relationship with Russia.  We were able to do the extension of the important New START Treaty for five years right off the bat, but we also look at areas where Russia has behaved aggressively and undertaken malign efforts for which, as the President said, there will be a cost.  We’re not going to stand idly by.  We don’t seek to escalate, we are simply, again, looking for a more predictable, stable relationship.  And I think there are areas where we can discuss these things with Foreign Minister Lavrov.

QUESTION:  So how much will Nord Stream 2 be a part of the Denmark stop?  And then how much would it be a part of the Lavrov conversation as well, and would it be connected?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL:   As you know, a piece of Nord Stream 2 goes through part of Denmark’s —

QUESTION:  Still – they’re still constructing it there.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL:  — external zone.  I suppose it may come up.  I mean, I think our position is very clear.  We’ve made that clear, not just the Danes but everybody else, where we stand on that.  So it could come up in the bilat, I suppose.  And I think the same holds for Lavrov.  We’ve been very clear, as has the Congress, in our views of Nord Stream 2, and that it is a Russian strategic project that undermines European security, European energy security.  So we’ll see if those things come up.

QUESTION:  I would just say – sorry – speaking of pipelines, do you get to something like, even though it probably wasn’t a Russian state actor – we don’t know that – do you get to something in like, the colonial pipeline hack and the ability of these people to operate from inside Russia in a meeting like this?  Or is that too granular?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL:  I would expect that that would be – I mean, I think we’ve made the points that we made based on what the President has said and what the Secretary said earlier.

QUESTION:  What do you make of the decision by the hacking group to sort of go underground and cease operations?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL:  I’m not the cyber expert or the guy on hacking groups.  I’m really not familiar with (inaudible).

(Chit-chat.)

QUESTION:  On the Arctic Council meeting, is there a single environmental or climate issue that you guys are most interested in tackling, that’s the most important in terms of on the agenda?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL:  I don’t need to (inaudible) others are really for the Arctic Council and the climate people.  I mean, I think it’s a very broad issue.  The Arctic is clearly critical in that.  The Arctic Council’s played a role, and all eight Arctic nations have real issues. I mean, when we go to Greenland, and we see, for instance, (inaudible) of the ice cap the glacier they have, those are kind of real litmus tests of challenges we face as those ice caps melt, sea levels rise, et cetera.  But again, I’ll leave you for the guys who are really the experts on that.

QUESTION:  Two very brief things.  Iceland and Norway are not in the EU?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL:  That is correct.  Neither Iceland or Norway is in the EU.

QUESTION:  Where’s Jim DeHart?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL:  Jim DeHart is meeting us in Iceland.

QUESTION:  He wasn’t in the testing area yesterday.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL:  Yeah, exactly.  Yeah, he’s not doing the Copenhagen stop, so he was taking the commercial flight.

MODERATOR:  Thank you, .  Appreciate it.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL:  Sure.  Thanks

MODERATOR:  So this, we’ll just do on background, senior State Department official, (inaudible) preview the first stop in Copenhagen and take some questions.

(Chit-chat.)

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL:  So obviously the first half of the trip is Copenhagen, Denmark.  And I think we’re all aware that the Kingdom of Denmark, which, of course, includes also Greenland and the Faroe Islands, is a very important ally.  We’ve actually had diplomatic relations with Denmark for 220 years, so that just underscores sort of the shared democratic values, commitment to peace, NATO Ally, from which we get a lot.  And in fact, Denmark, of course, is the only country that is a member of NATO, the EU, and the Arctic Council.  So a lot to talk about with them.  They were participants at the recent democracy summit, and that sort of highlighted some of the important role the Danes are playing in the rules-based order internationally.

Secretary will start the day meeting with the prime minister, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen.  She’ll have a – bilat with her, and then move on to meet separately with the with the foreign minister.  He’ll have an audience with the queen, Queen Margrethe, and the crown prince, just a short meeting there.  And (inaudible) that we’ve been doing these first 120 or so days, revitalizing, repairing relations with allies, particularly in the transatlantic sphere.  Of course, he’s had a chance to see the foreign minister at the NATO Ministerial previously.  They’ve talked on the margins of that.

Uniquely, again, although we’ve done it before, we’ll have a quadrilateral foreign ministers meeting.  So the second day, we’ll join Foreign Minister Kofod, the Danish foreign minister, but also the foreign ministers of Greenland and the Faroe Islands, for a chance to talk about the broad array of issues with all of them.  We have, obviously, security issues, economic issues, the whole range.  And as you know, we’ve been pursuing over the last couple of years relations both with Greenland and with the Faroe Islands in terms of economic opportunities.  We opened our consulate, of course, in Nuuk, and we’ll talk later in the trip as we prepare for the Greenland stop as well.

QUESTION:  How much of the cleanup about the relationship has to do with reassuring them that the U.S. isn’t interested in buying Greenland?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL:  I think we’ll underscore just all of the things that we’re doing with Greenland as a part of the Kingdom of Denmark, and we’re doing that with the foreign minister of Denmark itself.  Of course, the Faroe Islands come along as well.  We did a lot of work in the past year working on this broad agreement for things we can do with the Faroe Islands.

There will be a – I mentioned already the bilateral meeting with the foreign minister, and the Secretary should have a chance to get some information on some of the scientific and technological things going on in Denmark, particularly related to climate, which is of great interest to all of us.  The – their climate thing, stuff they’re doing that’s really in the high-tech sphere in terms of quantum devices and things like that.  Denmark is a leading partner in that, and so we’ll have good opportunities there.

I think that kind of wraps up the day, right?

QUESTION:  Can we ask you about —

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL:  He’ll, of course, see the embassy team, do a standard kind of meet and greet with the embassy team, which is nice.  So I think this one is actually in person.

MODERATOR:  Oh, is it?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL:  I think so, yeah.  We’ll have to check that, but I think it’s appropriately distanced and all that, but a chance to see in person, and whether they’ll – some people may join virtually as well.

QUESTION:  Can we ask you about the Lavrov meeting?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL:  Well, that’s in Iceland, which is the next stop.  So we could talk about that on the next leg of the trip, but –

QUESTION: Since you’re here —

QUESTION:  What would, for you, success or positive meeting look like?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL:  I think it’s about testing the proposition of working on areas where we have mutual interests, which is what the President has laid out and what the Secretary has said before.  As you know, we’ve made very clear from the first day of the administration that we seek a more stable relationship, a more predictable relationship with Russia.  We were able to do the extension of the important New START Treaty for five years right off the bat, but we also look at areas where Russia has behaved aggressively and undertaken malign efforts for which, as the President said, there will be a cost.  We’re not going to stand idly by.  We don’t seek to escalate, we are simply, again, looking for a more predictable, stable relationship.  And I think there are areas where we can discuss these things with Foreign Minister Lavrov.

QUESTION:  So how much will Nord Stream 2 be a part of the Denmark stop?  And then how much would it be a part of the Lavrov conversation as well, and would it be connected?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL:   As you know, a piece of Nord Stream 2 goes through part of Denmark’s —

QUESTION:  Still – they’re still constructing it there.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL:  — external zone.  I suppose it may come up.  I mean, I think our position is very clear.  We’ve made that clear, not just the Danes but everybody else, where we stand on that.  So it could come up in the bilat, I suppose.  And I think the same holds for Lavrov.  We’ve been very clear, as has the Congress, in our views of Nord Stream 2, and that it is a Russian strategic project that undermines European security, European energy security.  So we’ll see if those things come up.

QUESTION:  I would just say – sorry – speaking of pipelines, do you get to something like, even though it probably wasn’t a Russian state actor – we don’t know that – do you get to something in like, the colonial pipeline hack and the ability of these people to operate from inside Russia in a meeting like this?  Or is that too granular?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL:  I would expect that that would be – I mean, I think we’ve made the points that we made based on what the President has said and what the Secretary said earlier.

QUESTION:  What do you make of the decision by the hacking group to sort of go underground and cease operations?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL:  I’m not the cyber expert or the guy on hacking groups.  I’m really not familiar with (inaudible).

(Chit-chat.)

QUESTION:  On the Arctic Council meeting, is there a single environmental or climate issue that you guys are most interested in tackling, that’s the most important in terms of on the agenda?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL:  I don’t need to (inaudible) others are really for the Arctic Council and the climate people.  I mean, I think it’s a very broad issue.  The Arctic is clearly critical in that.  The Arctic Council’s played a role, and all eight Arctic nations have real issues. I mean, when we go to Greenland, and we see, for instance, (inaudible) of the ice cap the glacier they have, those are kind of real litmus tests of challenges we face as those ice caps melt, sea levels rise, et cetera.  But again, I’ll leave you for the guys who are really the experts on that.

QUESTION:  Two very brief things.  Iceland and Norway are not in the EU?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL:  That is correct.  Neither Iceland or Norway is in the EU.

QUESTION:  Where’s Jim DeHart?

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL:  Jim DeHart is meeting us in Iceland.

QUESTION:  He wasn’t in the testing area yesterday.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL:  Yeah, exactly.  Yeah, he’s not doing the Copenhagen stop, so he was taking the commercial flight.

MODERATOR:  Thank you, [Senior State Department Official].  Appreciate it.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL:  Sure.  Thanks