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Sweden counts cost of Chad extension

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Sweden counts cost of Chad extension
Sgt Johan Lundahl / Combat Camera - Försvarets Bildbyrå
17:14 CET+01:00
The cost for extending Sweden's mission in Chad by three months comes to 46 million kronor ($7.5 million), Sweden's Defence Minister Sten Tolgfors said today.

He made the remarks during a debate on the subject held on Wednesday in the Riksdag.

After harsh criticism from the opposition—and from leaders in his own party—that the mission was too short, Tolgfors stated on Tuesday that the Swedish force could remain in Chad until the end of August, an extension of three months.

Half of the force landed in Chad on the same day. The rest are due to arrive at the end of the week. A group of Swedish special forces troops are already in place.

The decision to extend the mission was welcomed by representatives from all parties in the Riksdag.

“I'm very happy that the government has come to its senses,” said Social Democrat Urban Ahlin.

Opposition members of parliament were pleased that Tolgfors was forced to “swallow a bitter pill.”

Tolgfors, however, said the decision came as result of a request made Monday by Patrick Nash, commander of EU forces in Chad, as well as a request Tolgfors made of the Swedish Armed forces in the middle of February.

The debate also didn't skirt the issue of whether funding for the mission was available.

Ahlin mentioned that the Riksdag had earlier decided and approved appropriations for two missions, one to Chad and one to Darfur. As the mission to Darfur never materialized, he claimed there ought to be money left over.

But Tolgfors disagreed, saying that all the money appropriated, as well as additional funding, had already gone to the Chad force.

The Left Party and Green Party had also wanted the Swedish soldiers to stay in Chad for the remainder of 2008 until a UN force is set to take responsibility for security.

But Tolgfors considered such a request as unrealistic, mentioning as he had previously that an extension of that length would cost more than 300 million kronor.

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