Kerry faces climate, spying, smoking in Sweden


Vice President Biden with Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia. (Tim shaffer/Reuters)

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel hosted them Friday when they laid flowers at the Pentagon memorial to those killed on 9/11.

Hagel also thanked them “for Sweden’s close security partnership in the wake of September 11, 2001, and pledged to continue close military to military cooperation in the future,” a Pentagon statement said.

Well, maybe Sweden, so famously neutral in World War II, will get around to joining NATO? They contributed troops in Afghanistan, after all.

And Secretary of State John Kerry is there this week to attend a foreign minister’s meeting Wednesday of the Arctic Council — the eight countries with land in the Arctic.

The meeting’s not in Stockholm but in balmy Kiruna, the northernmost “city” (pop. 18,000) in Sweden, 80 miles above the Arctic Circle. It boasts a hotel made of ice and snow. (It was snowing Monday.)

On the other hand, sunrise is around 2:30 a.m. and sunset at about 2:45 p.m. Best we can recall, it never gets fully dark this time of year. And if it’s cold, the usually cheery Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov will be there to warm things up. (He’s a serious smoker, we hear, so he might be a bit grumpy if they make him go outside.)

And he may be even grumpier than usual, what with the news Tuesday that the Russian State Security Service briefly detained an American diplomat they claimed to have caught red-handed trying to recruit a Russian officer to work as a U.S. agent.

See the video of the arrest here:

The Russians said the American had “special technical devices,” typewritten instructions for the recruit, a “large sum” of cash and various means of disguise when they picked him up, our colleague, Will Englund reports.

Uh-oh.

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993.

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