Swedish king makes secret Afghanistan visit

King Carl Gustaf has just visited Swedish troops in Afghanistan in secret and for several days. He left Afghanistan to return to Sweden on Saturday.

Swedish king makes secret Afghanistan visit

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.”

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Tranströmer the focus of Nobel festivities

Swedish Nobel laureate in literature, Tomas Tranströmer, continued to be the focus of attention during the Nobel banquet on Saturday night.

Tranströmer the focus of Nobel festivities

“Tomas Tranströmer is one of the very few Swedish authors who have had an impact on world literature,” said professor Kjell Espmark during his speech to the nobel laureate in literature on Saturday.

Only an hour after completing the award ceremony in the Stockholm Concert Hall, about 1,300 guests were seated in the Blue Hall (Blå Salen) in Stockholm City Hall.

When the clock struck seven, King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia descended the long stairs to take their seats.

However, it was Tranströmer who continued to receive the most attention during the evening. He didn’t however have to make the long walk down the stairs but due to health reasons joined the party with his wife Monica straight at the table.

It was also Monica who would deliver the acceptance speech in her husband’s place. She quoted her husband saying:

“Sick of all who come with words, words, but no language / I traveled to the snow covered island. / The wild has no words. / The unwritten pages spread out in every direction! / I come across the traces of roe deer hoofs in the snow. / Language but no words.”

Many eyes were also aimed at crown princess Victoria and her growing pregnant belly. She was seated next to physicist laureate Brian Schmidt.

Princess Madeleine was absent from the gala, having chosen to instead participate in festivities in New York held to honour the 100th anniversary of Marie Curie’s second Nobel Prize.

As usual, the flowers for the arrangements were collected from San Remo on the Italian riviera, where Alfred Nobel lived for several years and where he also passed away on December 10th, 1896.

The renowned guests enjoyed a three-hour-sitting to enjoy their three-course dinner, to be followed by dancing in the upstairs Golden Hall (Gyllene Salen).

On the menu, which was – as tradition dictates- kept secret until the last moment, lobster was served as the starter and guinea fowl as main course.

For dessert, the guests enjoyed a tangerine and white chocolate mousse o a cinnamon biscuit and topped with fresh raspberries.