Death will not change Swedish strategy

There will be no change in policy on Afghanistan in light of the death of a soldier, says defence minister Sten Tolgfors. The opposition are divided, with the Left calling for a pull out, but the Social Democrats insisting that the troops stay.

And Gustaf Fahl, head of the Swedish Afghanistan force, also says to news agency TT that they have no plans to change their strategy on the ground. The officer says that, on the contrary, the close cooperation with the Finnish troops, and the Afghan authorities, has worked very well and the number of attacks has diminished.

After the killing of a Swedish soldier on Saturday the Left party is repeating it's calls for a military pull out from Afghanistan. But the largest opposition party, the Social Democrats, disagrees.

Hans Linde, Left party spokesman on foreign affairs, says to news agency TT that Sweden must stop "turning a blind eye to failure." He adds that "it is high time, after we have been in Afghanistan for nine years, to see that this mission has not succeeded in its goals." The Left party wants to replace the military force with increased humanitarian aid.

Urban Ahlin, social democrat spokesman on foreign affairs, says to Swedish radio news that the Swedish military force in Afghanistan should end some time in the first half of 2013 - but he adds that "this depends on the Afghan government being able to take over the security and the responsibility". Until then, the force must remain, he says - and that to start to question the decision after only a few deaths in combat would actually increase the risk to Swedish soldiers.

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