Swedish politics stirred up by 'Telub scandal'

The so called "Telub scandal" is disturbing the normally placid political scene in Stockholm. Calls have been made for the resignation of three ministers from the country's three-party non-Socialist coalition government and a special parliamentary investigation is underway.

Telub is a state-owned electronics firm specializing in defense systems.

In 1977 the company signed an agreement with Libya which included provision for the training of 40 military personnel at Telub's headquarters in Vaxjo.

Such a deal would be strictly ruled out by Sweden's neutralist foreign policy as Libya exists in a permanent state of war with Israel, with Palestine Liberation Organization units receiving training and support from Libyan head of state Muammar Qaddafi.

The question is: Did Telub tell the government about the deal?

Former Telub chief Benkt Dahlberg says he did. The various government ministers involved (there have been three non-Socialist governments since the deal was concluded) say he did no such thing.

The politicos claim Mr. Dahlberg said that the Libyans would be coming to Sweden for non-military instruction only.

But when it was revealed that Sweden's ambassador in Libya in 1978 sent a letter to Stockholm warning against the deal.

The question is whether the then Foreign Minister Karin Soder (now minister for health and social affairs) actually saw this letter and if not, why not?

The other ministers under pressure to quit are Eric Kromark (defense) and Staffan Burenstam Linder (trade). Like Ms. Soder they are being accused of negligence in allowing the the Telub deal to go through.

Opposition leader Olof Palme has accused the government of trying to avoid its responsibilities. But fellow Social Democrat member of parliament Ake Gustavsson went even further by calling it "Sweden's Watergate." His demand for the resignation of the three ministers, however, was taken somewhat more seriously.

The Telub deal is worth $44 million. And Swedish businessmen are worried the growing storm might hurt other deals with Libya.

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