Sweden to share Obama with Nordic neighbours

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Sweden to share Obama with Nordic neighbours

Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt announced on Thursday that he has invited his Nordic counterparts to Stockholm to participate in talks with Barack Obama during the US president's September visit to Sweden.


Reinfeldt said leaders from the four Nordic nations had been invited to a dinner with Obama on the evening of September 4th, confirming speculation that had been circulating in the Nordic media since the US president's visit was announced last week

"We have a lot of things in common and this gives us a chance to discuss (those) matters directly with President Obama," Reinfeldt told The Local about the planned meeting.

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While the Swedish prime minister emphasized the "historic nature" of Obama's visit to Sweden, he added that it nevertheless represented an important opportunity for an expanded dialogue that could include his counterparts from Norway, Finland, Denmark, and Iceland.

"Since President Obama chose to stay for a full day rather than just a couple of hours, I think it also is a good gesture to at the same time invite my Nordic colleagues," he added.

Other than the dinner with Nordic leaders, few other details about the itinerary for Obama's visit have been released. Among other things, Reinfeldt expects to discuss foreign policy, free trade, sustainability and "how to get our economies to grow".

He also emphasized the importance of the meeting for Sweden, although he stopped short of calling it a "summit", instead explaining that his experience had taught him that "open discussions with Barack Obama are the most effective, and I think he feels the same way".

"This is the first sitting US president to come to Sweden for a bilateral meeting," he told The Local. "It's an opportunity for a middle-sized country to actually engage in talks where we are really are dependent on what the US, the G8, and the G20 are doing on trade and growth."

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The prime minister also hinted that Obama's visit may complicate transit in Stockholm as the Swedish capital struggles to cope with the expansive security measures associated with the visit of an American president.

"It's going to be a security test for Sweden, not the least how it will affect traffic for Stockholmers," he said of the visit.

The US president is scheduled to arrive in Stockholm on Wednesday, September 4th before departing for St. Petersburg, Russia on Thursday, September 5th to attend the G20 summit.

David Landes

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