Swedish foreign minister says she has ‘new ideas’ for Yemen

Swedish foreign minister says she has ‘new ideas’ for Yemen

AMMAN: In an exclusive interview with Arab News, the Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom revealed that she has “new ideas” for ways to solve the war in Yemen. 

“I think we have come up with some new ideas. We have shared some of our impressions and we have been talking to different actors, and so I think we will be even tougher in stopping the war. We have to protect children who are dying, and stop the immense suffering that is taking place,” she said.

Wallstrom is on a tour of the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Oman, and hopes to speak to all actors in the Yemeni conflict. “We have to make sure that there are discussions on what is happening, to continue the implementation of agreements, and to work with all actors. We have to stop this war. We have to ease the suffering of those that need humanitarian help.”

She also told Arab News that she hopes to talk to as many countries as possible during the upcoming UN General Assembly to convince them to support the UN Refugee Agency (UNRWA), which has a $150 million deficit this year, due in part to the US’s decision to defund the agency providing humanitarian aid to Palestinians. 

“We have to raise the money. We will make every effort to do that, especially at the UN General Assembly, and we will insist on funding for the UNRWA.

“It is a constant problem — every year we do this and we will continue to do it. We would like to see a long-term political solution and to make sure that there is financing for refugees, because it is vital for millions of Palestinians.”

She also reaffirmed her support for the rights of Palestinians in the face of Israeli moves to annex further parts of the West Bank.

“Sweden recognized Palestine because we want to push for the two-state solution, we want to give hope to the people in Palestine and Palestinians everywhere. We want to make sure that we help Palestinians to fulfill their role in the two-state solution.

“We hope that we can share our experience. It would be helpful, too, if other countries would follow suit and recognize Palestine.”

Wallstrom played a role in drawing up the 2018 Stockholm agreement, the deal based around the port city of Hodeidah which, it had been hoped, would secure a ceasefire between Arab coalition-backed Yemeni forces and Houthi rebel militias in the area. That, though, has been complicated by subsequent events, with the Houthis taking the capital city of Aden in August.

“What has been happening in Aden has exasperated the situation — it has shown us the need for a solution. I think we have to act on several tracks right now. We have to make sure that there are discussions on what happened to continue the implementation of pre-existing agreements, and it is also important to work with all actors to achieve this. 

“That is why I am here to see what can be done. I am realistic. The only thing that remains for us is hope, and we keep that hope alive,” she added.

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