Stockholm: Sweden`s government today said it
would be open to extending the mission of its 500 troops
serving in Afghanistan and could send more soldiers to the
country if it wins the September 19 election.
"The (government) alliance wants to extend the mission of
the Swedish force in Afghanistan and is open to an increase of
the military contribution if the safety situation requires
it," Defence Minister Sten Tolgfors wrote in Dagens Nyheter, a
leading Swedish daily.
"We see our participation the international crisis
management missions under popular mandate as an expression of
solidarity and responsibility of Sweden in the world," he said
in a text which was also signed by the defence spokespeople of
the three other parties in power.
One of the first decisions to be taken by the newly
elected parliament after the September 19 election is to
decide if it will continue or not the mandate of its troops in
Some 500 Swedish troops are currently posted in the North
of Afghanistan, serving in the NATO-led International Security
Assistance Force (ISAF).
Swedish troops were sent to the country in early 2002,
even though Sweden is officially neutral and not a member of
The Swedish opposition coalition, made up of the
Social-Democrat, Left and Green parties, is divided on the
presence of Swedish troops in Afghanistan and has not yet said
what it would do if it wins the election, but said it would
clarify its position before the vote.