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Israel

Swedish minister calls off visit

September 07, 2009|Times Wire Reports

Sweden's foreign minister abruptly called off a visit to Israel this week, an Israeli spokesman said, amid a feud over a Swedish newspaper article and a growing gulf between Israel and the international community over West Bank settlement construction.

Foreign Minister Carl Bildt called off the trip planned for this Friday, according to Yigal Palmor, an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman. Palmor, who would not comment on a possible reason, said Sweden informed the Israeli Embassy in Stockholm of the decision Friday.

The Swedish decision came the same day Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu drew international condemnation for approving hundreds of new apartments in West Bank settlements. Israel and Sweden were involved in a diplomatic spat over an unsubstantiated article in a Swedish tabloid that accused Israeli soldiers of harvesting organs from dead Palestinians..

Swedish officials denied a connection between the cancellation and the article. Anna Brodin, political officer at the Swedish Consulate in Jerusalem, said Bildt put off his visit in the hope that Mideast peace efforts would progress during the United Nations General Assembly this month.

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