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The President today welcomed Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen of Denmark to the White House for bilateral consultations. Denmark is one of the closest allies of the United States, and the Prime Minister’s visit is a testament to the deep and enduring ties between the two countries. The meeting was an opportunity to mark the 100th anniversary of Denmark formally ceding the United States Virgin Islands to the United States on March 31, 1917. Although the United States and Denmark did not establish diplomatic relations until 1801, American revolutionaries used neutral Danish ports in the Virgin Islands to procure munitions during their struggle for independence.

In today’s meeting, the President and Prime Minister discussed their desire to see NATO strengthened to confront 21st century threats. The President urged the Prime Minister to work towards NATO’s benchmark of committing 2 percent of GDP to defense, and the Prime Minister underscored his intention to push for a substantial increase in defense spending in the coming years.

The President and Prime Minister agreed to continue leveraging our bilateral ties and relationships with Allies and partners to maintain security and stability in the Baltic Sea region and the Arctic. They also underscored the need to maintain momentum in the fight against ISIS. Denmark was one of the first countries to join the counter-ISIS coalition, offering F-16 fighter jets, military trainers, special operations forces, and humanitarian assistance to the effort. The leaders also discussed Afghanistan, where American and Danish soldiers have lost their lives fighting alongside one another since 2001.

The two leaders further addressed bilateral cooperation to create sustainable growth and jobs for American and Danish citizens. Both agreed that free and fair trade based on reciprocal opportunity should be the foundation for stronger transatlantic economic ties.

In the years ahead the United States and Denmark will continue to forge ahead side-by-side in pursuit of shared interests and linked by common values.