Mon, Mar 11, 2002 - Page 4 News List

Sweden didn't get Chen's visa request

AP , STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN

Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh said on Saturday the government never received a visa request from President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and thus never formally denied it, as an opposition leader claimed.

"A visa was never requested," Lindh said in a statement, adding that Foreign Ministry officials had discussed issuing a visa to a senior official in Chen's office, but not the president himself.

Last Wednesday, Liberal Party leader Lars Leijonborg claimed the Social Democratic government had denied Chen a visa to attend the party's centennial celebration next weekend. He criticized the government for "crawling before the dictators in Beijing."

In an interview on Saturday, Leijonborg said he was surprised by recent reports from Taiwan's and Sweden's foreign ministries stating Chen had not intended to travel to Sweden.

"I maintain that I, in full agreement with the Taiwanese, requested that Chen be issued a visa, and the Swedish government said `no' to that."

"The only explanation I see to the confusion that has been created is that the Taiwanese feel a need to partly protect their own prestige and partly save face for the Swedish government," Leijonborg said.

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