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May 30, 2012

Clinton in Scandinavia for Talks on Syria, Afghanistan, Iran

by Scott Stearns

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in Denmark at the start of a week-long trip to Europe that is expected to focus on Syria, Afghanistan and Iran.

Senior State Department officials traveling with Secretary Clinton say her talks with government leaders in Copenhagen, Oslo and Stockholm will include discussion of how to increase diplomatic, economic and political pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

U.N. and Arab League envoy Kofi Annan left Syria on Wednesday without securing any agreements with the government in Damascus on ending 15 months of violence.

On her trip to Denmark, Norway and Sweden, Clinton will thank the Scandinavian allies for their work on global development, climate change, the Balkans, the Middle East, Libya and Afghanistan.

NATO members Denmark and Norway flew numerous strike missions in the Libyan conflict, and Sweden helped enforce the no-fly zone there.  All three countries have troops in Afghanistan and have agreed to keep them there through December 2014 in keeping with the Lisbon timetable.

Secretary Clinton will also discuss the ongoing nuclear talks with Iran and incentives that the international community is willing to provide Tehran, if it demonstrates that its nuclear program is not intended to develop atomic weapons.

In Copenhagen, Clinton will meet separately on Thursday with Queen Margarethe, Foreign Minister Villy Sovndal and Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt.

Following stops in Scandinavia, the secretary of state travels to Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey.