Iraqi prime minister arrives in Sweden

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki arrived in Sweden on Wednesday ahead of an international conference seen as an important step toward Iraq's long-term stability.

Iraqi prime minister arrives in Sweden

Maliki’s plane landed just before 4pm, a spokesman for Stockholm’s Arlanda airport told AFP.

The Stockholm conference will be attended by between 500 and 600 delegates, including US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

It will be the first follow-up meeting since the launch a year ago of a five-year peace and development plan called International Compact with Iraq.

At that meeting at the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, more than 60 countries and organisations promised to cancel 30 billion dollars of Iraqi debt.

Maliki, who will host Thursday’s conference together with Ban, said before leaving for Sweden he hoped the international community would agree to Iraqi debt relief and reduce war reparations.

The United States has however played down expectations for the Stockholm meet, and Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said Wednesday debt relief was “not the subject of this conference. There are separate talks going on.”