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Sweden to maintain political dialogue with Russia

Updated onsdag 15 februari kl 15.00
Published onsdag 15 februari kl 09.56
Russian affairs expert: A long-term strategy
(2:57 min)
Foreign minister Margot Wallström presenting the government's statement of foreign policy.
Minister for Foreign Affairs Margot Wallström presenting the government's statement of foreign policy. Credit: Jonas Ekströmer/TT

Presenting the Swedish government's annual foreign policy statement today, Foreign Minister Margot Wallström spoke of the need to maintain a political dialogue with Russia.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Margot Wallström's third statement of foreign policy since the Social Democrats and Greens formed a coalition government was presented to parliament on Wednesday, just days after a controversial visit to Iran in which a largely female trade delegation abided by the country's strict hijab law. Critics, including the Liberals' leader Jan Björklund, said the women wearing headscarves went against Sweden's feminist foreign policy.

Margot Wallström made no mention of the controversy and instead said Sweden's feminist foreign policy is producing results for women, girls and entire societies.

Our efforts have contributed to some 20 countries drawing up laws and proposals to strengthen gender equality, to hundreds of thousands of women and girls avoiding unsafe abortions and unwanted pregnancies." 

In view of what she called "the serious international situation," Sweden's foreign minister urged global actors such as the United States, China, India and Russia to take greater responsibility.

Wallström is to meet her Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, and in the government's statement of foreign policy 2017 she said that Sweden needs a broad approach in relation to Russia, which remains aggressive.

We will maintain a political dialogue, take a long-term view, urge Russia to pursue cooperation rather than confrontation, and promote people-to-people contacts. And we will do so without compromising our principles-based stance." 

On US President Donald Trump's new administration, Sweden enjoys and will continue to enjoy, close relations with the United States, Wallström said.

Relations with the new US administration remain important for our trade and our security. But the White House's action's raise questions about the role of the United States in the World."

The Trump administration said on Wednesday that peace between Israel and the Palestinians may not come in the form of a two-state solution, but Wallström told parliament that the Swedish government continues to work for the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and will appoint a special envoy.

She said that the Security Council resolution 2334 on the Israeli settlements, and the international conference held in Paris in January, could, "in the best-case scenario, create the conditions for a renewed peace process and a two-state solution."

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