World

What's he been smoking, asks ex-Swedish foreign minister

'Sweden problems' based on Fox News report: Trump

STOCKHOLM/WEST PALM BEACH A day after falsely suggesting there was an immigration-related security incident in Sweden, US President Donald Trump said on Sunday that his comment was based on a television report he had seen.

Mr Trump, who in his first weeks in office has tried to tighten US borders sharply for national security reasons, told a rally on Saturday that Sweden was having serious problems with immigrants.

"Sweden. Who would believe this? Sweden.

"They took in large numbers. They're having problems like they never thought possible," said Mr Trump.

No incident occurred in Sweden and the country's baffled government asked the US State Department to explain.

"My statement as to what's happening in Sweden was in reference to a story that was broadcast on Fox News concerning immigrants and Sweden," Mr Trump said in a tweet on Sunday.

Fox News, a US channel that has been cited favourably by Mr Trump, ran a report on Friday about alleged migrant-related crime problems in the country.

A White House spokesman told reporters on Sunday that Mr Trump had been referring generally to rising crime, not a specific incident in the country.

Sweden's crime rate has fallen since 2005, official statistics show, even as it has taken in hundreds of thousands of immigrants from war-torn countries like Syria and Iraq.

Mr Trump's comment confounded Stockholm.

"We are trying to get clarity," foreign ministry spokesman Catarina Axelsson said.

Sweden's embassy in the US repeated Mr Trump's tweet and added: "We look forward to informing the US administration about Swedish immigration and integration policies."

Mr Trump has been widely criticised for making assertions with little or no evidence.

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He has said more than 3 million people voted fraudulently in the US election, which officials say is false, and incorrectly stated that he won by the most decisive margin in decades.

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom appeared to respond to Mr Trump on Saturday by posting on Twitter an excerpt of a speech in which she said democracy and diplomacy "require us to respect science, facts and the media".

Her predecessor was less circumspect.

"Sweden? Terror attack? What has he been smoking? Questions abound," Mr Carl Bildt said in a tweet. - REUTERS

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