Bildt: bigger role for EU in Afghanistan

The European Union should take on a larger role in Afghanistan, Sweden's foreign minister, Carl Bildt, has suggested.

Bildt, writing on his blog, said his conversations with Swedish journalists had informed him that “certain people” were calling on Sweden to “more or less scrap our involvement in Afghanistan”. The calls follow news that Swedish troops had been involved in an exchange of gunfire in the north of the country.

Bildt said that he had “great difficulty understanding” the calls for withdrawal. In the blog post, entitled ‘Abandon? No, quite the opposite’ (‘Overge? Nej, Snarare tvärtom’), he argued that for renewed engagement with the country.

“I believe that the European Union can do more to help Afghanistan,” he said.

He did not elaborate on the role he envisaged for the EU in Afghanistan. He said Sweden, which holds the rotating presidency of the 27-member bloc, would table a proposal after the summer.

He also used the blog post to praise recent changes to US policy in the country:

“They have recognised the need to protect civilians, and to focus more on civil and economic measures for building peace,” he wrote.

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