Swedish king makes secret Afghanistan visit
TT/The Local · 16 Apr 2011, 16:03
Published: 16 Apr 2011 16:03 GMT+02:00
According to Swedish newspaper Expressen, the king visited Mazar-i-Sharif where 500 Swedish soldiers have a home base. He also visited the newly built base Monitor in the Shirbigran Province, where Foreign Minister Carl Bildt had recently been.
Bertil Ternert, Royal press officer, told news wire TT that the king left for Afghanistan on Thursday and boarded a plane Saturday afternoon back to Sweden. The trip was kept in secret because of the security situation in Afghanistan.
“The unit had asked if the king could come and visit the Swedish soldiers,” said Ternert.
The king traveled with his chief of staff and an aide.
“The focus has been to visit as much as possible of the operation down there,” said Ternert.
“The king has a strong interest in everything about the Swedish Armed Forces and he is knowledgeable about the operation.”
Later the king, in his field uniform and dark beret, cut the red ribbon during Camp Monitor's inauguration ceremony. Then he spoke to the soldiers.
According to a press release from the Swedish Armed Forces, he said: “I have actually been waiting to come to Afghanistan and experience the Swedish contribution. It's impressive to get to experience the work you all do and it's gratifying to see. It's also interesting for me to get a chance to experience your day-to-day activity, I've been told it's a vulnerable and very stressful situation.”
Crown princess Victoria visited the Swedish contingent in Afghanistan over a year ago. It is the king's first visit to soldiers in Afghanistan.
"I, together with the Swedish people, stand behind you; in your important mission and our continued and important work here in Afghanistan,” the kind said.
“With these words, I declare Camp Monitor inaugurated.”
His view is that the Swedish mission in Afghanistan is complex but with the goal to create stability and security in the country.
“It's not easy, what I've understood,” he said.
“This cooperation – even though it has gone on for a number of years – is deepening on all fronts. Not just between the forces who are here, but also that which is most important: cooperation and understanding of each other and trust in each other, with the Afghanistan forces that you have to work it – in the breadth of the whole country.”