"Norway and Sweden have long been preparing to provide support for the UN's action in Darfur. We regret, therefore, that we are forced to withdraw our offer to provide an engineer unit for UNAMID," say Foreign Ministers Carl Bildt and Jonas Gahr Störe in a joint statement.
Sweden and Norway had been planning joint action with the contribution of an engineer battalion, the purpose being to build up the infrastructure for the UNAMID peacekeeping mission for which the United Nations and the African Union are jointly responsible. Of the total of about 400 soldiers involved, Sweden was to provide approximately 140.
Exercises with Norway
"We have for quite a while been ready to go, following extensive preparations and exercises jointly with Norway," says Head of Operations Anders Lindström, and he continues:
"The Swedish Armed Forces will now consider other possibilities for maintaining the professional skills of these soldiers. It may be that they can be employed in other operational areas within the framework of normal rotations to Afghanistan or Kosovo."
Defence Minister regrets
Defence Minister Sten Tolgfors regards it as "deeply regrettable" that the Norwegian-Swedish contribution has been stopped.
"The need for a military contribution is considerable. The humanitarian suffering is extremely great," comments Sten Tolgfors in a press statement.