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Swedish PM upbeat on Brexit talks after May visit

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Swedish PM upbeat on Brexit talks after May visit
Stefan Löfven poses with Theresa May shortly after her arrival at the Rosenbad building: photo: Björn Larsson Rosvall/TT
19:51 CEST+02:00
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has sought to dispel doom and gloom over Brexit talks, saying the negotiations are going “quite well" after meeting his British counterpart Theresa May in Stockholm.
“It is positive that the negotiations between the EU and the UK so far have developed quite well,” Löfven said, pointing to the agreement on transition arrangements made in March. 
 
“This is most welcome because it is another step towards an orderly Brexit,” he said.
 
May met Löfven for an hour on Monday evening at the Rosenbad building opposite Stockholm's Royal Palace, following a similar meeting earlier in the day with Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen. 
 
He said that although Sweden still regretted Britain's decision to leave the union, he was looking forward to the Brexit talks progressing in the coming months.
 
“We should approach these talks with a positive and practical mindset," he said. 
 
May stressed the close economic ties between the Sweden and the UK, noting that there were roughly 1,000 Swedish companies operating in Britain and a similar number of UK companies operating in Sweden. 
 
The press conference after the meeting was dominated by questions over the two countries' response to the chemical weapons attack on the rebel-held Damascus suburb of Douma. 
 
Both Löfven and May said their countries have called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council over the attack, but held back from committing themselves to joining a military response until more investigations have taken place over who is to blame. 
 
The two also discussed their responses to the attempted murder of a Russian agent in Salisbury using a nerve agent, with May attacking Russia for its claims that Sweden could have produced the nerve agent used. 
 
It was, she said, "a preposterous attempt to distract from the truth". 
 
"Our case for Russian culpability is clear," she said. "No other country has the capability, the intent, and the motive to conduct such an attack." 
 
Löfven reiterated Sweden's backing for UK over the attack, saying that it represented “a further challenge by Russia to the international rules-based order”. 
 
Sweden has already expelled one Russian diplomat and Löfven said it would be willing if necessary to undertake additional punitive measures if Russia fails to cooperate fully with an investigation by the Organisation for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OCPW). 
 
“There's now an ongoing investigation and still Russia has not answered the questions posed by the United Kingdom, so we need to have that option," he said. "We have to have that possibility of course, because Russia still has to answer some questions here.” 
 
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