Wallström to speak at Arab League meeting

Wallström to speak at Arab League meeting
Sweden's Foreign Minister Margot Wallström. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT
Islamist extremist group Isis, a controversial Saudi arms deal and the Israel-Palestine conflict are likely to be hot topics when Sweden's Foreign Minister Margot Wallström speaks at the opening of an Arab League meeting in Cairo on Monday.

Wallström has been invited as a special guest by the Arab League’s Secretary-General Nabil al-Araby to speak at a meeting of the member states’ foreign ministers.

 “It will be the perfect opportunity to talk to important representatives,” she told Swedish news agency TT.

“This is a chance to discuss not least terrorism around the world, the situation in the Middle East and the Israel-Palestine conflict,” she added.

The Arab League has 22 member states in and around north Africa and south-west Asia, although Syria's membership has been suspended since the start of the civil war in 2011. Wallström’s invitation to speak at its meeting in Egypt comes against the backdrop of Sweden's recognition of Palestine.

“It plays a part, I’m sure, but our relations are solid so this feels good,” she told TT, but added she did not think it would adversely affect Sweden’s relations with Israel.

“I can’t imagine that [it would],” she said.

Read more: Wallström presents Sweden's foreign policy

Relations between Sweden and Israel have been strained since Sweden in October last year became one of the first countries to formally recognize the state of Palestine, a decision that prompted Israel to recall its ambassador. In January, Wallström made headlines when she cancelled a scheduled trip to Israel. The visit was postponed indefinitely.

The Foreign Minister, along with Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, recently came under criticism on home soil as well, after it was reported the government would not seek to end a controversial military agreement with Saudi Arabia.

When asked by TT on Wednesday if Wallström would meet her Saudi Arabian counterpart to discuss the arms deal on her visit to Cairo she replied, “yes, it is likely he will want to meet me too”.