Obama Meets With Rasmussen on Afghanistan
By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service
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.”