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AFGHANISTAN

Sweden plans phaseout from Afghanistan

The Swedish military presence in Afghanistan will be reduced by 100 people next year and phased out completely by summer 2014, according to the government.

Sweden plans phaseout from Afghanistan

“I want to stress that this is just military personnel. We will intensify civilan and aid efforts. Afghanistan will be one of Sweden’s largest aid receivers for a long while yet,” said Foreign Minister Carl Bildt to news agency TT.

The government on Thursday presented their proposed plan for Sweden’s efforts in Afghanistan together with the Social Democrats and the Green Party.

According to the government, Sweden has earmarked some 8 billion kronor ($1.2 billion) to aiding Afghanistan over the next ten years.

According to Bildt, the decision to reduce the Swedish military presence in Afghanistan is consistent with the security situation in the area controlled by the Swedes.

“The security situation in our area has developed relatively well. There have been incidents but much fewer than anticipated,” said Bildt.

At the start of 2013, the Swedish military staff in Afghanistan will consist of some 400 uniformed staff. By summer 2013, it will be reduced to 300.

However, some 35 people in the helicopter unit will be added to the existing staff, as well as personnel working on the ongoing phase-out.

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NATO

Turkey forms ‘permanent committee’ to assess Swedish Nato deal

Turkey on Thursday said a new "permanent committee" would meet Finnish and Swedish officials in August to assess if the two nations are complying with Ankara's conditions to ratify their Nato membership bids.

Turkey forms 'permanent committee' to assess Swedish Nato deal

Finland and Sweden dropped their history of military non-alignment and announced plans to join Nato after Russia invaded Ukraine at the end of
February. All 30 Nato members must ratify the accession.

Nato member Turkey has demanded the extradition of dozens of suspected “terrorists” from both countries under an accession deal the three signed last month.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to “freeze” the process over Sweden and Finland’s failure to extradite the suspects.

He accuses them of providing a haven for outlawed Kurdish militants. “If these countries are not implementing the points included in the
memorandum that we signed, we will not ratify the accession protocol,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu reaffirmed in a televised interview.

He said the committee would meet in August but provided no details.Turkey’s parliament has broken for its summer recess and will not be able
to hold a ratification vote before October. Some Turkish officials have warned that the process may drag out until next year.

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