The secretary of state offered yet another example of his diplomatic upbringing on Tuesday while speaking with his counterpart from Norway.
"Takk for det. Tusen takk," responded John Kerry to a question from a Norwegian reporter about the chief diplomat's linguistic skills.
That translates to "Thank you for that. A thousand thanks." A staffer at the Norwegian Embassy in Washington confirms the latter is the more formal phrase of gratitude.
The joint press conference followed a meeting between Kerry and Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide. The two discussed security issues in regions such as Afghanistan, Libya and Sudan, and also the effects of global warming as "fellow Arctic nations," Kerry said.
The reporter who tested Kerry's linguistic skills first asked a question about whether Kerry would push Norway to become more involved in the Palestine-Israel peace process. Kerry cited the 20th anniversary of the Oslo Accords -- the first face-to-face agreement between Israeli and Palestinian leaders – and added, "it's not for the United States to tell Norway or suggest to Norway how much or how little they should fight for peace."
Kerry's demonstrations for the press corps have become a regular occurrence at his conferences. The secretary of state, whose father served in the Foreign Service in post-war Europe, employed his extensive, though guarded, French skills for a journalist during his European tour, and frequently referenced his time living in Berlin and Paris. He attended boarding school in New England for part of his father's tenure in Oslo.
"I had the occasion of living in Norway for a couple years when my dad served in the embassy there," Kerry said. "I was reminiscing with the foreign minister about some wonderful times in the parks and on the hills and on the fjord there. And I have great memories of Norway."
Kerry concluded the conference with another stab at the language.
"I don't want any pretense here folks. The phrase that I learned best of all was 'Jeg snakker ikke norsk,' which means, 'I don't speak Norwegian.'"
Skip to 11:20 for the Scandanavian exchange:
Kerry also met with Uzbekistani Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov on Tuesday. He is scheduled to sit down with the foreign minister of Singapore, K. Shanmugam, and Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan on Wednesday, before heading to the White House for a meeting with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.