On May 16, Finnish Ambassador Ritva Koukku-Ronde welcomed me and the Nordic-Baltic (NB) Ambassadors to her home on Embassy Row for a candid discussion on some of the most pressing global challenges we face today. Over a traditional Scandinavian breakfast, we exchanged views on a wide-range of issues, from the DPRK to ending the bloodshed in Syria to climate change in the Arctic. I very much appreciated hearing from our close friends.
For decades, the United States has shared a strong partnership with the NB nations (Denmark, Estonia, Iceland, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, and Sweden) -- a partnership that is founded on our mutual interests and common values. These Northern European states, which range in population from 9 million (Sweden) to 300,000 (Iceland), are nonetheless among the strongest global economies and represent the second-largest contributor of foreign assistance in the world. Together, our partnership is indispensable to global security and prosperity.
We've worked with Northern Europe for that last 10 years through the Enhanced Partnership in Northern Europe (EPINE), a policy coordination group comprised of all eight NB states. EPINE provides an important venue for engagement and policy coordination as we seek solutions to the complex problems set of problems before us.
Secretary Kerry has been actively engaged with Northern Europe as well. Just this week, he returned from the Arctic Council Ministerial in Kiruna, Sweden. The Council moved forward on a number of critical initiatives responding to unprecedented changes in the Arctic, including efforts to promote dynamic and sustainable Arctic economies, and addressing the impact of climate change on the Arctic.
We're also working closely to bolster the global economy by tapping into Northern Europe's strong history of trade and investment. Many of the NB states are EU members, with which we share a mutual goal of achieving an ambitious, high-standard Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Our extensive trade with the Nordic-Baltic region is important to our broader transatlantic economic relationship, which supports millions of jobs and makes key contributions to growth.
U.S.- NB cooperation literally stretches the globe, and I'm sure we'll continue to deepen our partnership in the years ahead.
About the Author: Wendy R. Sherman serves as Under Secretary for Political Affairs.