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Obama and Leaders of Five Nordic Nations in a United Front against Russia | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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United Nations ambassador Samantha Power and her husband Cass Sunstein arrive at the state dinner in honor of President of Finland and the Prime Ministers of Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Iceland at the White House in Washington on May 13, 2016. / AFP PHOTO

WASHINGTON- President Barack Obama and leaders of five Nordic nations presented a united front against Russia on Friday, calling for sanctions against it to continue and further expressing concern about Moscow’s military buildup in the Baltics.

All 6 leaders met at the White House for Russia-focused talks in addition to highlighting all migrants flooding to Europe because of Syria’s crisis, though the meeting was more about soft diplomacy than launching ambitious foreign policy endeavors, given that Obama’s second and final term ends in January, and thus he is limited by the political calendar in what he can promise or change.

The latter said, “I thought this was a very useful and important conversation, although there was probably too much agreement to make for as exciting a multilateral meeting as I sometimes participate in”.

Diplomats, officials, politicians and few prominent faces from the world of comedy and media were assembled in a gathering that embraced more than 300 guests in a glass-ceiling tent built around a tree on the South Lawn.

In charming moments with hand-rolled beeswax candles and strings of lights reflected off ten-foot pillars of ice, an homage to the northern lights. Later, Pop star Demi Lovato, known for her support of liberal causes, was set to perform after a Nordic-inspired meal of ahi tuna, tomato tartare and red wine-braised beef short ribs.

While on her way to the dinner, Samantha Power, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, expressed her content in regard of this meeting, “It’s a great opportunity to drink wine and make progress on the most serious issues of our time” she added.

One nation, not on the list of invited or present guests, Russia, had the whole summit mainly aimed at. Recalling that Russia seized Ukraine’s Crimea region in 2014 and has stepped up its military posture in the past period.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is planning its biggest build-up in eastern Europe since the Cold War to try to deter further Russian aggression, and Denmark and Norway said on Friday they would be willing to contribute to the “enhanced allied forward presence” with NATO.

Following the summit, Obama assured that they will be maintaining ongoing dialogue and will further be seeking cooperation with Russia, however he added “but we also want to make sure that we are prepared and strong, and we want to encourage Russia to keep its military activities in full compliance with international obligations”.

Worth noting that Obama has long expressed admiration for the pragmatic and liberal-leaning politics of the Nordic nations and their achievements.

“There have been times where I’ve said, why don’t we just put all these small countries in charge for a while? And they could clean things up,” the latter said.