Speaks about Dawit Isaak

Eritrean President: "No silent diplomacy"

Sweden and Eritrea stopped negotiating over the imprisoned journalist Dawit Isaak several years ago, and the silent diplomacy that Foreign Minister Carl Bildt has referred to does not exist, according to the Eritrean President. The statement comes as a suprise to Sweden.

In an interview published Sunday with the Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet, the Eritrean president Isaias Afwerki says his country has absolutely no contact with Sweden. Afwerki does not want to say in the interview whether Isaak is dead or alive.

The President's statement comes as a surprise to the Swedish Foreign Ministry. "I'm not sure what's behind the statement. For the first part, we are constantly working to get Dawit Isaak released. Secondly, that's why we are in constant contact with top level representatives for Eritrea," says Frank Belfrage, cabinet secretary in the Foreign Ministry.

The Foreign Ministry has not received any signals from Eritrea that the two country's diplomatic ties have worsened. "No, that's why it's quite surprising to hear," he says.

The Swedish-Eritrean journalist Dawit Isaak was arrested in 2001 in his native Eritrea, as part of a crackdown on journalists and the political opposition. He remains behind bars today, despite no charges ever being filed against him.