Swedish PM: 'Important US doesn't isolate itself'

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Swedish PM: 'Important US doesn't isolate itself'
Stefan Löfven visiting Barack Obama at the White House in May. Photo: Heiko Junge/NTB scanpix/TT

Swedish prime minister Stefan Löfven has praised US president Barack Obama ahead of Tuesday's leaders' summit in New York to discuss global solutions for the refugee situation.


Löfven is co-hosting the summit dedicated to assisting refugees, alongside Obama and leaders from Canada, Ethiopia, Germany, Jordan and Mexico, taking place on the fringe of a meeting of the UN General Assembly this week.

"The message the government has brought to New York is that more states need to take responsibility to manage the huge refugee flows. This refugee crisis is a global crisis and can only be solved together," said Löfven in a statement as the UN conference kicked off on Monday.

"The United Nations must become more effective in the area of migration and we must focus on improving conditions for peace and development by giving refugees a future through education and jobs," added the centre-left Social Democrat leader.

Sweden took in a record 163,000 asylum seekers last year – the most per capita in Europe – but the numbers later went down after it tightened its borders and introduced stricter asylum rules, which the government argued it was forced into by other EU states not pulling their weight in taking in more.

At a press conference in New York, Löfven praised the US president for organizing Tuesday's leaders' summit, which is likely to be the last time the two leaders meet before the latter leaves office in January.

"In many respects it is impressive," Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet quoted him as saying about Obama's record. "Just in regards to this refugee meeting, he's taking a very important initiative. Around 40 countries have gathered. It shows that the US is prepared to make commitments."

He also commented on the US presidential race, saying: "The importance of the US being out there and not being isolated is important. One of the candidates, Donald Trump, is more or less suggesting that the US should isolate itself. That won't work in an international economy."

Löfven's predecessor, Fredrik Reinfeldt of the centre-right Moderate Party, said he too had been impressed when he hosted Obama on an official visit to Sweden in September 2013.

"He said that he would love to return to Stockholm with his family. Shortly thereafter I met Michelle and Barack Obama again in New York and Michelle confirmed that Barack talked to her about it after his visit to Stockholm. I said I hoped they would find time to return after his presidency," Reinfeldt told Aftonbladet.

Löfven also plans to use his time in New York to launch his 'Global Deal' idea on Wednesday to promote the Swedish model of unionized workplaces to the rest of the world. But reactions have so far been lukewarm, with many of the hoped-for endorsements from celebrities and Swedish companies failing to turn up. 


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