Obama Meets With Rasmussen on Afghanistan, Libya, Japan

WASHINGTON, March 14, 2011 — Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma today thanked Denmark’s prime min­is­ter for his country’s con­tri­bu­tions in Afghanistan and said the two will con­tin­ue to work close­ly on that issue and oth­ers.
Oba­ma wel­comed Lars Lokke Ras­mussen to the White House where the two dis­cussed “a wide range of issues,” includ­ing Afghanistan, Libya and Japan, as well as their coop­er­a­tion on antiter­ror­ism efforts, the pres­i­dent said in a state­ment fol­low­ing the meet­ing.

The Unit­ed States is espe­cial­ly grate­ful “of the sac­ri­fices that have been made by Dan­ish troops in Afghanistan, and the extra­or­di­nary lead­er­ship that Den­mark has shown as part of” NATO’s Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Assis­tance Force there, Oba­ma said.

Den­mark is a small coun­try and, pro­por­tion­ate to its size, “it’s made as sig­nif­i­cant an effort and made as many sac­ri­fices as any­body in help­ing to sta­bi­lize Afghanistan and now help to effec­tu­ate a tran­si­tion to Afghan lead­er­ship,” the pres­i­dent said.

Dan­ish troops “are fight­ing in some of the tough­est areas, with­out caveat,” Oba­ma said. “We have dis­cussed how 2011 is going to be a year of tran­si­tion” with Afghans tak­ing over more of their own secu­ri­ty. Under Rasmussen’s lead­er­ship, “he has been able to build a con­sen­sus with­in Den­mark about how that tran­si­tion would pro­ceed that I think is a mod­el for all our allies and par­tic­i­pants in Afghanistan.

“So, we are grate­ful for the excel­lent work that he has done per­son­al­ly, and obvi­ous­ly most grate­ful for the sac­ri­fices of Dan­ish troops in help­ing to under­write the secu­ri­ty of all of us,” he con­tin­ued.

Turn­ing to the issue of polit­i­cal upris­ings in the Mid­dle East, Oba­ma said Ras­mussen has been a leader in help­ing to apply sanc­tions against Libyan leader Mom­mar Gad­hafi, and human­i­tar­i­an assis­tance to peo­ple dis­placed in the region.

“We will be con­tin­u­ing to coor­di­nate close­ly both through NATO, as well as the Unit­ed Nations and oth­er inter­na­tion­al forces, to look at every sin­gle option that’s avail­able to us in bring­ing about a bet­ter out­come for the Libyan peo­ple,” the pres­i­dent said.

The two lead­ers also dis­cussed their coop­er­a­tion on coun­tert­er­ror­ism efforts and con­tin­ued efforts to pro­vide assis­tance to Japan, parts of which were dev­as­tat­ed last week by an 8.9 mag­ni­tude earth­quake fol­lowed by a tsuna­mi.

“Although Japan is a high­ly advanced econ­o­my and tech­no­log­i­cal­ly equipped to rebuild at this moment of cri­sis, it’s impor­tant that all of us join togeth­er, pro­vid­ing any help and assis­tance we can in the days and months to come,” Oba­ma said. “I’m in close con­tact with [Japan­ese] Prime Min­is­ter Kan and our teams are in close coop­er­a­tion, as is our mil­i­tary, in the region. And we expect to con­tin­ue that coop­er­a­tion until we have some sta­bi­liza­tion of the sit­u­a­tion there.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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