President Obama and Prime Minister Reinfeldt at the press conference. Photo Jessica Gow / SCANPIX

"The moral thing is not to stand by": Obama

US President Barack Obama has met with Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt for talks covering free trade, climate change and Syria.

At a joint press conference Obama called Sweden one of the "closest partners" of the United States. He spoke at length about the situation in Syria, underlining the importance of international action.

"An initial strike will not change the overall situation. That will be solved eventually by a political transition," he said. "It's about detering the use of those weapons again."

Responding to a question regarding the prospects of a Nobel Prize winner preparing to attack Syria he repeated an earlier remark that he was "not worthy" of the Nobel prize and went on to explain the rationale for intervention in Syria.

"At what point do we say we need to confront actions that are violating our common humanity?" he asked.

"When I see 400 children subjected to gas...and we have the opportunity to take some action that may mitigate this particular problem then the moral thing is not to stand by and do nothing."

Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt called Sweden a small country with a strong belief in the United Nations. He pointed out that Sweden has opened the door to permanent residency for Syrian refugees.

"I understand the problem of not responding to the use of chemical weapons," he said.

"And I understand the president needs to react but this small country will always push for a UN solution."

Reporter: Tom Sullivan (tom.sullivan@sr.se)

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