June 8, 2011 / 10:50 AM / 9 years ago

Sweden extends Libya forces mandate

STOCKHOLM, June 8 (Reuters) - Sweden said on Wednesday it would extend its participation in the military alliance against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, with its planes to carry out reconnaisance operations for the NATO-led forces.

Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said the Nordic nation would cut the number of fighter jets it commits to the alliance to five from eight, but this was enough to carry out its mission.

“To maintain the military pressure is very important ... so that the political process may lead to a very fast solution, so that we then can move over to democracy and state building in Libya,” Bildt told reporters.

Swedish jets have been patrolling the U.N. no-fly zone since early April, but Bildt said that operations would now focus on reconnaisance.

The goverment also said it would expand its contribution to humanitarian efforts in Libya.

Civil war in the vast North African desert oil producer ignited in February when Gaddafi tried to crush pro-democracy rallies against his 41-year-old rule, inspired by uprisings that have toppled or endangered other rulers across the Arab world. (Reporting by Johan Sennaro, Anna Ringstrom and Simon Johnson, editing by Alistair Lyon)

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