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Sweden to name special envoy to Israel-Palestine peace process

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Sweden to name special envoy to Israel-Palestine peace process
Margot Wallström presenting Sweden's official foreign policy vision for 2017 to the Riksdag. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT
07:46 CET+01:00
Sweden is to appoint a special envoy to the Israel-Palestine peace process, Foreign Minister Margot Wallström announced during the presentation of her foreign policy vision in parliament.

Wallström presented the ruling centre-left Social Democrat-Green coalition government's foreign policy declaration for the year in the Riksdag on Wednesday morning, continuing an annual tradition.

One of the key points is that the government will appoint a diplomat to work full-time on the Israel-Palestine conflict. The special envoy is to establish contacts and represent Sweden in international talks about the conflict.

"This year marks 50 years of the occupation of Palestine. Sweden continues to work for a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and will appoint a special envoy,” Wallström told the Riksdag.

"When I visited Palestine in December it was noticeable that hope can turn to despair, and this features heavily in the consultations that Sweden is holding with almost 150 Israeli and Palestinian civil society organizations," she added.

Sweden's relationship with Israel has been increasingly frosty in the past few years. In 2014 it recognized Palestine as a state, and Israeli officials have routinely refused to meet Wallström after she called for investigations into "extrajudicial" killings of Palestinian assailants by Israeli forces.

Wallström also addressed Britain's decision to leave the EU in her speech, saying that Sweden will act according to what best serves Swedish and European interests once Brexit negotiations start.

Without mentioning US president Donald Trump by name, she also said that "relations with the new US administration remain important for our trade and our security", adding, "but the White House's actions raise questions about the role of the United States in the world".

Wallström is set to meet her Russian counterpart in the near future, and the Foreign Minister insisted that Sweden will "maintain a political dialogue, take a long-term view, urge Russia to pursue cooperation rather than confrontation, and promote people-to-people contacts".

Sweden is currently a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. The foreign policy declaration to parliament is seen as the country's official stance on international affairs and is usually attended by foreign diplomats as well as members of parliament and Swedish officials.

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