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Sahlin makes first visit to Afghanistan

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Sahlin makes first visit to Afghanistan
Social Democratic leader Mona Sahlin, July 2010
18:35 CEST+02:00
Social Democratic leader Mona Sahlin is visiting Afghanistan for the first time. During her trip, she will visit Swedes in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

The Red-Green coalition made up of the Social Democrats and Green and Left Parties still do not have a common policy when it comes to Afghanistan, but they say they will give a clear message before the general election on September 19th.

Sahlin did not mention what would happened to the Swedish contribution in Afghanistan if the Red-Green coalition won the election in the fall.

"As a responsible politician and leader of the Social Democrats, it is my duty to come here when we send so many men and women here," she told news agency TT after her first day in the country. "It is important for me to hold talks on the spot."

After meetings with representatives of NATO, the US-led ISAF force, the Afghan government and United Nations representatives in Kabul, Sahlin and the party's foreign policy spokesman Urban Ahlin will continue onto Mazar-e-Sharif and the Swedish soldiers there. They will also visit humanitarian projects.

Speaking to journalists, Sahlin said she still hopes that she and her colleagues in the Green and Left Parties will be able to come to an agreement on Afghanistan policy. "It is my conviction and ambition," to form a policy, Sahlin said.

The Left Party wants the Swedish troops to come home as soon as possible. The Green Party's congress in May said that they will come home by 2014 at the latest, while Sahlin's own party has refused to pledge to any dates.

A proposition must be tabled fairly soon after the election about the immediate future of the mission. Sahlin also used the trip to express concern about corruption in the war-torn country.

"There is no shortage of money, but the question is where the money goes," she said.

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