Sweden's new prime minister said Friday that his government will recognize a Palestinian state, a move that drew praise from Palestinian officials.
In a declaration listing his government's priorities, Social Democratic Leader Stefan Lofven told lawmakers that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can only be resolved through a two-state solution requiring "mutual recognition" and a will from both sides to co-exist peacefully.
"Therefore Sweden will recognize the state of Palestine," Mr. Lofven said.
He didn't say when or how that would happen.
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki welcomed Mr. Lofven's announcement and called on other European Union countries to follow suit.
"In the name of the Palestinian people and the Palestinian leadership, we thank and salute the Swedish position," Mr. Malki said in a statement.
He said the only other Western European countries that have recognized a Palestinian state are Malta and Cyprus. Some Eastern European
countries did so during the Cold War.
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psakia said the United States looks forward to working with the new government of Sweden – a close partner – but called international recognition of a Palestinian state "premature."
"We believe that the process is one that has to be worked out through the parties to agree on the terms of how they'll live in the future of two states living side-by-side," she said.
Mr. Lofven has built a left-leaning minority government of Social Democrats and Greens after winning parliamentary elections last month.
Both the Greens and the Social Democrats opposed a decision by former foreign minister Carl Bildt to not give Swedish support to a United Nations vote recognizing Palestine.