Hamas officials barred from Sweden: PM
Goeran Persson has said two Hamas officials hoping to visit Sweden would not be allowed entry after France denied them a visa.india Updated: May 03, 2006 17:19 IST
Swedish Prime Minister Goeran Persson on Wednesday said two leading Hamas officials hoping to visit Sweden this month would not be allowed entry after France denied them a visa.
Sweden and France are signatories of the so-called Schengen accords between EU members and others, which grant freedom of travel within their borders to visitors having obtained a visa from any other member country.
Hamas parliamentary group spokesman Salah Muhammad al-Bardawil and Hamas official Mohammad al-Rantissi were to visit Malmoe in southern Sweden on May 16 following an invitation by a local association.
"We have no national interest in inviting them (Hamas) and are therefore going to follow the line that the Hamas leader will not be issued with a visa for Schengen countries," Persson said during a visit to Finland.
The French foreign ministry on Wednesday confirmed that it had refused visa applications for both Hamas officials.
Members of the Swedish parliament had also been planning to meet the two men in Sweden, but the Swedish government has said none of its members would do so.
Sweden, in line with the rest of the European Union, does not have political contacts with the Hamas-led Palestinian government.
In Norway, which al-Bardawil and al-Rantissi are also to visit, the government said previously that the Hamas officials would be met by high-ranking civil servants but not members of the government.
Hamas is listed by both the EU and the United States as a terrorist organisation, and both countries have frozen assistance to the Palestinian Authority.