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Cablegate: Social Dem Leader Sahlin Meets with Ambassador

VZCZCXRO4232
OO RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR
DE RUEHSM #0707 3140944
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 100944Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY STOCKHOLM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4894
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE

C O N F I D E N T I A L STOCKHOLM 000707

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/10/2019
TAGS: PREL PGOV EUN SW
SUBJECT: SOCIAL DEM LEADER SAHLIN MEETS WITH AMBASSADOR

REF: STOCKHOLM 686

Classified By: Ambassador Matthew Barzun for reasons 1.4 (B) & (D).

1. (C) Summary: On November 9, Ambassador met with Social Democratic Party (SDP) Leader Mona Sahlin. Highlights of the conversation were: SDP supports Sweden's continued mission in Afghanistan; Sahlin would like to see increased cooperation with the U.S. on environment and cultural issues; and the SDP is preparing for a tough fight as it nears the 2010 general elections. End Summary.

2. (C) Ambassador had a courtesy call with Social Democratic Party Leader Mona Sahlin. The topics of discussion included Afghanistan, Trans-Atlantic ties and the upcoming general election. -- Afghanistan: The Ambassador thanked Sahlin for Sweden's continued contribution to Afghanistan. She replied that continued international involvement is "so very important", as it is not a U.S. campaign as the critics allege. All but one party in the parliament supports Sweden's involvement in Afghanistan. Sahlin said British Foreign Minister Miliband recently told her British opinion of Afghanistan is becoming more negative. A new strategy is key, she said, stressing that Europe is waiting for the Obama Administration to announce its new Afghanistan/Pakistan strategy. She lauded General McChrystal, calling him "wise and credible" and his report "easy to read." -- Trans-Atlantic Relationship: Sahlin explained that three years ago the Swedish public's anti-U.S. sentiments were strong, but a big shift has occurred. President Obama's election was one factor; the other is a better understanding by Swedes of how to deal with the U.S. She told the Ambassador she would like to strengthen the U.S.-Swedish relationship through cooperation on climate change and shared cultural values. -- Domestic Politics: Sahlin said her party will have a tough fight leading up to the 2010 general elections. The most important issue will be jobs and the economy (reftel), especially as unemployment is very high and will continue to rise. Foreign policy issues will not decide the election outcome, but discussion of Sweden's involvement in Afghanistan could gain in volume. Compared to the rest of Europe, Sweden's xenophobic political party, Sweden Democrats, is one of the smallest. While the party is gaining political ground, Sahlin said all seven major political parties refuse to work with them, even if they gain a seat in Parliament. BARZUN

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