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Netanyahu declines sideline UN meeting with Swedish PM: report

Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel, speaks during the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters, Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016.
AP Photo/Mary Altaffer
It is the second time Netanyahu has snubbed the Swedish leader's invitation

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly declined a meeting with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven on the sidelines of next week's United Nations General Assembly in New York, reportedly in part due to the country's recognition of a Palestinian state and past criticisms of Israel.

According to a Channel 2 television report on Saturday, Netanyahu turned down a sit-down meeting with Lofven citing scheduling conflicts.

It is the second year in a row that Netanyahu has snubbed the Swedish leader's invitation, the report said.

Netanyahu, who will address the General Assembly on Tuesday, is expected to meet on the sidelines of the event with US President Donald Trump, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Brazilian President Michel Temer, Panama’s President Juan Carlos Varela and Rwandan President Paul Kagame.

Jonathan NACKSTRAND (AFP/File)

Israel has had a rocky relationship with Sweden since 2014, when the country's parliament voted in favor of recognizing an independent Palestinian state.

Relations between Israel and Sweden have also been strained by a number of controversial statements by Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom relating to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

Following the November 13 attacks in Paris in 2015, Wallstrom asserted that the attacks were rooted in the frustration of Muslims in the Middle East, including that of Palestinians.”

In December 2015, she criticized Israel before the Swedish parliament for what she claimed were extrajudicial executions of Palestinian attackers.

Israel called the accusation "scandalous, surreal, impudent, and detached from reality."

Sweden recognized Palestinian statehood on October 30, 2014 in a move that was widely criticized by Israel.

(Staff with agencies)

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