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Hamas man to visit Sweden

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10:56 CEST+02:00
A senior representative of Hamas is to visit Malmö in May, the association which invited him has confirmed.

Salah Muhammad al-Bardawil, Hamas group leader in the Palestininan parliament, will visit the Swedish city on May 16th. He has been invited by three local associations, the Palestinian Association, Arabiska Huset and the Iraq Committee.

According to Jon Bonnevier, spokesman for the organising committee behind the trip, the objective is to put forward a series of viewpoints around the Palestinians' recent election of Hamas.

"We strongly condemn the EU's and the so-called world community's economic and political exclusion of the Palestinian people's representatives," said Bonnevier to TT.

"We want to support their right to stand up to the occupation power Israel and urge the Swedish government to resume diplomatic relations with the Palestinian authorities."

The Swedish government has ruled out all political contacts with Hamas while the party does not admit Israel's right to exist, distance itself from violence and stick to agreements entered into by the Palestinian authority.

Last week the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs said that it was not aware of the Hamas visit, but that there is no general visa ban for Hamas members.

Late on Wednesday the foreign ministry said it had nothing to add to its previous statement.

Al-Bardawil and Muhammad al-Rantissi, brothers of the former Hamas leader Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi who was killed in an Israeli missile strike two years ago, will meet civil servants in the Norwegian foreign ministry the day before their visit to Sweden.

In Norway the planned visit has sparked a fierce debate. Prime minister Jens Stoltenberg has emphasised that the visit is just at a civil servant level.

The two Hamas representatives are said to be planning a European tour in which they will also visit France, Germany, Italy and Austria.

TT/The Local

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