US Secretary of State John Kerry showed off more of his hidden language skills on Tuesday, revealing he still knew some Norwegian picked up as a boy when he spent a couple of years in Oslo.

And he won praise from his Norwegian counterpart Espen Barth Eide, who said after talks at the State Department that Kerry "can even speak quite impressively Norwegian phrases."

America's new top diplomat had tried out some phrases "and we were quite impressed by his memory," Eide told journalists.

During his first overseas trip after taking over as secretary of state from Hillary Clinton, Kerry delighted his European hosts by speaking French, German and Italian on stops in Paris, Berlin and Rome.

The son of an American diplomat, Kerry spent much of his boyhood in Europe as he accompanied his father to various postings.

He told Eide that he had "wonderful memories of Norway" and the times he had spent in the "parks and the fjords there."

Kerry also praised Norway's role on the global stage.

"On almost every challenge or conflict in the world today, Norway plays one of the giant outsized roles of any country on this planet," Kerry said. "I think it's safe to say that Norway is one of the great global citizens."