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WASHINGTON — BP chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg said Wednesday the British energy giant cared about the fate of the "small people" hit by the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, vowing to look after all affected.
Emerging from White House talks with President Barack Obama, Svanberg said the British energy giant had "always met our obligations and responsibilities."
"We have made clear from the first moment of this tragedy that we will live up to all our legitimate responsibilities," Svanberg said, adding all claims for compensation would be met "swiftly and fairly."
"We will look after the people affected, and we will repair the damage to this region, the environmental damage to this region and to the economy," he added.
English is a second language for Svanberg, who is Swedish, but reporters took note of his demeaning phrasing, and shouted questions about what he meant after he spoke, which he did not answer," The Huffington Post reported.
However, in Swedish, the words are very similar: "small" is translated as "små."
In a column called "The 'small people' ask, 'WTF?'" NBC News notes, "Reaction has been swift to BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg's declaration that BP cares about 'the small people.' And folks aren't cutting the Swedish-born executive any slack for trying to speak colloquially in a second language."