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Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf honors Palestinian National Day
Monday November 17, 2014 8:39 PM, IINA

Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf has congratulated Palestine on its "National Day", weeks after Stockholm officially recognized the state of Palestine.

King Carl XVI Gustaf

The message was sent to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday.

"On the occasion of the National Day of the State of Palestine I wish to convey to Your Excellency my best wishes for your health and happiness and for the prosperity of the people of the State of Palestine," the letter, carrying the Royal Court's official letterhead, read.

Palestinians mark their National Day on November 15, the anniversary of the Palestinians' unilateral declaration of independence proclaimed by Yasser Arafat in 1988.

The Royal Court said it is routine that the head of state, in coordination with the Foreign Ministry, sends cables to all countries on their national days.

"As the Swedish government has recognized the state of Palestine, it has also been sent on Palestine's National Day", it said in comments to Swedish news agency TT. The role of the Swedish king is purely ceremonial.

Sweden recognized the Palestinian state on October 30, in a move that prompted Israeli anger and the withdrawal of the Israeli ambassador to Stockholm.

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom told Al Jazeera at the time that recognizing Palestine, and the leadership of Abbas, would put each party on a level playing field and help move peace talks forward.

"It is important to support those who believe in negotiations and not violence," she said. "This will give hope to young Palestinians and Israelis that there is an alternative to violence."

Sweden became the first EU member state in Western Europe to recognize the Palestinian state. Seven other EU members have already recognized Palestine - Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Malta, Poland, and Romania. Non-EU member Iceland is the only other Western European nation to have done so.

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