Photo: AFP
Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom
Photo: AFP

Abbas to visit Sweden after Israel shuns FM visit

After Swedish foreign minister cancels Israel visit amid diplomatic tensions between two countries, Stockholm invites Palestinian president for visit.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will visit Stockholm next month after Sweden became the first major state of the European Union to recognize Palestine, the Swedish government announced Friday.



"The visit of president Abbas, by invitation from the prime minister, is confirmed for February 10," foreign ministry spokeswoman Ulla Jacobson told AFP. "He will also meet the foreign minister, the king and the archbishop."


Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (Photo: AFP) (Photo: AFP)
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (Photo: AFP)


She said the agenda would include the Arab-Israeli peace process and "what Sweden can offer after (its) recognition" of Palestine in October.


Sweden's recognition of Palestine came despite strong criticism from Israel which earlier this month said Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom was not welcome for an official visit in the country.


Israeli FM Lieberman and Swedish FM Wallstrom
Israeli FM Lieberman and Swedish FM Wallstrom


Wallstrom had been due to visit Israel in mid-January to attend a memorial service for the Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg who saved Jews during the Holocaust. She was also expected to visit the Palestinian territories.


Wallstrom said she would use Abbas' visit to push for stalled peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians to resume.


"We will make demands of the Palestinians. That's what we will use our relationship for," she told Swedish Radio.


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The very public breakdown in relations between Sweden and Israel began after Sweden officially recognized Palestine as a state in October. After a series of jabs thrown between Foreign Minister Lieberman and Wallstrom, Wallstrom continued the battle, which has played out in the media last week calling Israeli policies were "extremely aggressive."


The comments came after she was notified that she would have to bring her own security personnel and that her trip would not be considered an official state visit.


At first, Israel made it clear that the president, prime minister and foreign minister would not be able to meet with her. Afterwards, when Stockholm inquired as to who would provide security for the Swedish FM, the Jerusalem office responded that that Swedish delegation would be invited to submit a request to provide their own security. In the end, the Israeli tactics took their toll and the Swedes announced that the trip would be rescheduled because of "scheduling constraints."


Over the weekend, Wallstrom said Israel had irritated close allies by over-reacting to Stockholm recognizing the state of Palestine, saying its rhetoric over the issue had "crossed all limits".


"It is unacceptable how they have been talking about us and everybody else," Margot Wallstrom said in an interview in daily Dagens Nyheter. "It has irritated not only us, but the Americans and everyone who has anything to do with them right now."


AFP contributed to this report




פרסום ראשון: 01.30.15, 17:57
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