They wanted them there to answer questions about Sweden's continued deportation of failed asylum seekers to Iraq, and the US diplomatic cables leaked by Wikileaks, which are said to contain controversial statements by Billström and Foreign Minister Carl Bildt.
The red-greens were voted down in the committee by the four centre-right parties and the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats. "One can wonder what they have to hide", said the committee's deputy chairman, Social Democrat Tomas Eneroth, to news agency TT.
However the conservative Moderate chairman of the committee, Gunnar Axén, says that it's not the committee's job to do that kind of questioning. That should occur in the Constitutional Committee instead, he told TT, and noted that the minister has already been reported there.