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Swedish Opposition Agreement on Afghanistan

The Swedish coalition opposition parties, the Social Democrats, the Greens and the Left Party, have reached agreement on a limited extension of the mandate for Swedish troops now in Afghanistan and the delivery of ambulance helicopters there.

The agreements calls for the beginning of a withdrawl from Afghanistan next year - to be completed by 2013.

The Left Party which was originally pushing for an immediate pull-out, but says it agrees that the helicopters are needed to serve the troops already there, and it's pleased that the coalition partners agree to a withdrawal date.

The four-party ruling center-right coalition has been against setting any date for a Swedish withdrawal date.

The opposition support for sending helicopters saves the new minority government from failing to get agreement on this sensitive issue - and from having to bargain with the anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats now in parliament for the first time.

The Sweden Democrats are eager to become the balance of power between the ruling alliance and the opposition, and while some members want an immediate withdrawal of the Swedish troops, others want a deadline set for this - and could support the opposition against the minority government.

The red-green opposition parties have also agreed on a new education proposal calling for grading student starting in the 7th class – in contrast to the government's desire for grades starting in the 6th class.

The opposition has not yet agreed to support jointly a candidate for the speaker of  parliament or a common budget proposal.

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