Sweden, Norway deplore Israel's Gaza invasion | world | Hindustan Times
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Sweden, Norway deplore Israel's Gaza invasion

The governments of Sweden and Norway harshly condemned Israel's deadly assault on Gaza late on Saturday, insisting the invasion would seriously hamper diplomatic attempts to find a solution to the conflict.

world Updated: Jan 04, 2009 16:34 IST

The governments of Sweden and Norway harshly condemned Israel's deadly assault on Gaza late on Saturday, insisting the invasion would seriously hamper diplomatic attempts to find a solution to the conflict.

"The possibility that diplomatic efforts over the next couple of days will lead to progress has now diminished dramatically," said Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, who along with his French and Czech counterparts was traveling to the Middle East Sunday to try to help bring about a Gaza ceasefire.

The Israeli ground offensive is "basically an admission that (Tel Aviv's) air attacks over the past week have failed to achieve what they had hoped for," Bildt said in a statement late on Saturday.

"Instead of seeking a possible political solution after this failure they have now chosen to dramatically escalate the conflict with a ground offensive. It is obvious that this will make it harder to find a solution to this serious conflict," he added.

Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere meanwhile said his country "vehemently distances itself from acts of war that lead to massive civilian suffering and requests that the (Israeli) troops are withdrawn immediately."

"Continued bombing of the densely populated Gaza Strip has now become a full-blown military ground operation that is afflicting a civilian population that cannot defend itself and cannot flee," he lamented in a statement.

"There is no military solution to this conflict," he said, also calling on Hamas to halt its rocket fire on Israel.

"These unfolding acts of war have a single victim: the civilian populations on both sides," he said.