Biden warns Europe against overdependence on Russian energy

US Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday cautioned European countries against becoming too dependent on Russian energy, including natural gas.

Diversifying energy supplies was a "vital economic interest" as well as important in terms of security and the environment, Biden said after talks with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven in Stockholm.

"No country should be able to use energy as a weapon, no country should be able to use energy to coerce policies or actions from other nations," Biden added.

The US vice president said that a planned underwater Baltic Sea gas pipeline, Nord Stream 2, was "a fundamentally bad deal for Europe," noting that "Europe needs diverse sources of [natural] gas, not, in our view, a Nord Stream 2 pipeline."

A few years ago, a 1,200-kilometre underwater pipeline went online that transports natural gas from Russia to Germany. It is operated by Nord Stream, a Russian-German joint venture.

Biden and Lofven also discussed the international response to the large flows of migrants and refugees.

Sweden was named one of the co-hosts of a summit on refugees that the White House recently announced. The September 20 gathering of leaders was planned to be held on the margins of the UN General Assembly.

"The rest of the world has to step up and take on responsibility for displaced persons," Biden told reporters, lauding Sweden's role in receiving refugees and that more countries would follow its lead.

Lofven said the scope of the global refugee crisis required "a shared responsibility" not only in the European Union but also "globally".

"No country, no region, no continent, no organization can handle this alone," Lofven said.

The upcoming summit in New York aimed to "strengthen refugee protection around the world," he added.

Last year, Sweden registered a record 163,000 asylum bids, straining resources and capacity at reception centres and local municipalities.

Most of the asylum seekers in 2015 were from Syria and Afghanistan, with the next largest group coming from Iraq, according to the Swedish Migration Agency.

Biden arrived in the Scandinavian country late Wednesday after a day of intense meetings in Turkey with, among others, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

A large security detail was in place in the Swedish capital for Biden's visit, and sections of the inner city were closed off, as was the airspace, with bans also affecting drones. 

Last update: Thu, 25/08/2016 - 15:42
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