STOCKHOLM, Sweden, June 9, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- An AJC leadership delegation just concluded a two-day visit to Sweden's capital.
The visit was highlighted by a private 90-minute meeting with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, who was joined by Foreign Minister Margret Wallström. The Chairman of the Jewish Community of Stockholm, Aron Verstandig, participated with the AJC group.
The AJC delegation also met with Minister of Home Affairs Anders Ygeman, who is in charge of domestic security and coordination with his EU and other counterparts; the U.S. and Israeli Ambassadors to Sweden; and two Members of Parliament, Hanif Bali and Mathias Sundin, who lead Swedish-Israeli friendship groups.
Among the principal topics of discussion during the visit were: (i) Sweden's efforts to combat the threat of anti-Semitism and address security challenges affecting the Jewish community; (ii) Swedish-U.S. relations; (iii) Swedish-Israeli bilateral ties; (iv) Sweden's approach to Israeli-Palestinian issues; and (v) the integration process for the large number of refugees and other newcomers who have arrived in Sweden recently.
"As longtime friends of Sweden, we were warmly received by our hosts, which allowed for a spirit of openness in our discussions," said AJC CEO David Harris. "During our meetings, in particular with the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, we expressed concern about some of Sweden's recent actions related to Israeli-Palestinian issues, even as Swedish-Israeli bilateral links are quite strong in many spheres. These actions, we believe, are likely to make the prospect of achieving a two-state agreement still more difficult."
"Specifically, Sweden's decision in the fall of 2014 to become the first major West European nation to extend unilateral recognition to the 'State of Palestine,' followed by support for various decisions in UN bodies opposed energetically by both Israel and the United States, and some troubling public statements targeted at Israel, have been deeply disappointing," Harris added. "Sweden has a distinguished tradition of seeking to advance peaceful conflict resolution around the world. Respectfully, we hope it will give further consideration to how best to contribute to that worthy goal in the Israeli-Palestinian arena, beginning with a more balanced approach."
The AJC delegation included John Shapiro, the newly-elected President; Stanley Bergman, who concluded his three-year term as President earlier this week; and Daniel Schwammenthal, Director of the Brussels-based AJC Transatlantic Institute.
They also met with the leadership of the Jewish Community of Stockholm and visited the Forum for Living History, which is a government agency dedicated to fighting anti-Semitism and all forms of racism, promoting mutual respect, and teaching about the Holocaust.
AJC maintains close contact with Swedish diplomats in New York, Washington, and across Europe, and hosted former Prime Minister Göran Persson and former Deputy Prime Minister Per Ahlmark at previous AJC Global Forums.
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SOURCE American Jewish Committee