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Swedish PM tries to ease tensions
after Foreign Minister slams Israel

Jerusalem Post
August 7, 2002

Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson attempted to ease tensions between his country and Israel Wednesday, after comments by Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh raised the ire of Foreign Ministry officials.

The report in Monday's Jerusalem Post, in which Foreign Ministry officials accused Lindh of bias against Israel, made the top of the news on Swedish television Tuesday night, after the report was picked up by a Swedish news agency.

When reporters covering Persson's visit to the Swedish island of Oland asked the prime minister about Israel's criticism of Lindh, he responded that the dispute was probably due to a translation error.

The diplomatic episode began when Lindh responded to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's report on the IDF's operations in the Jenin refugee camp in an official press release of the Swedish Foreign Ministry.

"Israel's refusal to cooperate with the UN has meant that a full and comprehensive report has not been possible to produce," Lindh said. "The report shows that serious crimes against humanitarian law have occurred," she said.

"Particularly disturbing is the report's information on Israel denying access to humanitarian personnel to the areas in which fighting occurred. The violence of both sides has caused great civilian suffering."

Israeli Foreign Ministry officials responded with "anger and astonishment" at the statement and alleged that it is part of a long string of anti-Israel comments made by Lindh. The officials accused the Swedish foreign minister of lacking the courage to admit that she exaggerated in previous statements in which she spoke of "rumors of a massacre in Jenin."

The charges d'affaires in the Swedish Embassy in Tel Aviv, Erika Ferrer, spoke with Foreign Ministry officials about the report and clarified that the statements, as reported, did not accurately reflect Lindh's point of view.

"We have a problem in general in the Israeli media of things being taken out of context," Ferrer explained.

"The embassy wants to make clear that Lindh has come out strongly against terrorism and considers herself fair to both sides." The Israeli Foreign Ministry replied that it based its response on the official press release in English of Lindh's statements, as published by the Swedish Foreign Ministry.



Knifeman Stabs Swedish Foreign Minister

September 10, 2003

Sweden's Foreign Minister Anna Lindh was stabbed in the arm at a department store in central Stockholm on Wednesday, her ministry said. It was not immediately clear how badly she was hurt.

Lindh, 46, one of the most active campaigners for Sweden to join the euro in a referendum on Sunday, was taken to hospital, a foreign ministry spokeswoman said.

Lindh was shopping at the upmarket NK store when she was stabbed, ministry spokeswoman Ingrid Palmklint said. No details were given of who attacked her. Aftonbladet newspaper's Web site said an unidentified man was being held by police.

A popular member of the ruling Social Democratic government, Lindh has been tipped as a possible successor to Prime Minister Goran Persson