Social Democrats ‘hopeful’ on Libya action

Urban Ahlin, the foreign policy spokesman for the Social Democrats, said on Friday that he is "hopeful" to reach an agreement with the government on how the Swedish mission in Libya should continue.

“I am glad that Reinfeldt has started to talk about a marine operation. I have good hope that we will reach an agreement,” he said to news agency TT on Friday.

Although negotiations are reported to have reached a critical phase, neither party’s representatives wanted to reveal on Friday how far they have got in the discussion.

Although Ahlin made his comment after a long telephone conversation with Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, he told news agency TT that the Social Democrat demands to terminate the Gripen mission remain.

On Wednesday the NATO Council recommended that the international military mission in Libya be extended by 90 days from July 1st.

Besides a continuation of the Swedish contribution in the air, NATO wants soldiers who are trained to board ships.

According to TT they have also requested Swedish assistance in information operations.

Ahlin is welcoming what he perceives as a change in the government’s attitude to Libya, from only discussing the Gripen fighters to opening up on other areas where Sweden could make a contribution.

One objection raised to sending Swedish ships to Libyan waters is that they would take a long time to get there.

According to the Swedish military there are no naval units that could reach battle readiness in anything shorter than 90 days.

But according to Ahlin these objections are irrelevant as they are based on ignorance of what is currently being negotiated.

“There are a lot of people talking. They don’t know what I am negotiating with Bildt. How could they possibly know how long it would take to reach readiness? We know what NATO wants and from where we are standing, it should be achievable without a 90-day wait, “ he told TT.

Ahlin didn’t want to elaborate on what kind of marine operations he meant or how long it would take to get in place.

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