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Swedish FM headed for talks with Israelis, Palestinians

Sweden’s foreign minister will make the first official visit to Israel in a decade, the government said Sunday, following seven years of rocky ties after Stockholm recognized Palestine.

“Foreign Minister Ann Linde will visit Israel and Palestine on October 18 and 19,” the government said in a press release.

Since its recognition of the “State of Palestine” in 2014, Sweden has had a difficult relationship with Israel.

Linde will on Monday meet with her counterpart Yair Lapid as well as Israeli President Isaac Herzog. She will also visit Yad Vashem and participate in the opening of an exhibition celebrating 70 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

“Having a normal relationship at the level of the foreign minister itself is a new chapter in our foreign policy dialogue,” the minister told Swedish news agency TT on Friday. 

On September 15, during a first formal telephone call with Lapid, she had emphasized “the importance of our bilateral relationship.” 

“Both of us stressed that friendship and cooperation can and must go hand with respect for each other’s convictions & differences,” Linde tweeted, expressing her support for Israel’s security demands. 

The thaw in relations does not call into question Sweden’s recognition of Palestine, which the minister will also visit. 

“I fully support this decision. After all, it was also about wanting a two-state solution, wanting to strengthen the moderate forces and to make the parties less unequal in the peace negotiations,” Linde told TT.

About 140 countries have already recognized the Palestinian state, including eight in the European Union.

Besides Sweden, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Malta and Cyprus recognized it before they joined the EU. 

Linde will also meet President Mahmud Abbas as well as the head of the Palestinian government and foreign minister. 

Source: Naharnet.com

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