Turkey cancels Swedish defence minister’s visit over anti-Turkish protest permits

© Adem Altan, AFP

Turkey on Saturday canceled a planned visit by Sweden’s defense minister in response to the Nordic country’s issuing of permits for anti-Turkish protests.

Turkey has been angered by permission obtained by Rasmus Paludan, a Swedish-Danish politician whose anti-Islamist actions sparked riots across Sweden last year, to stage a protest in front of its embassy in the Swedish capital.

A day after summoning the Swedish ambassador over the issue, Ankara said it was cancelling a visit by Sweden's defence chief that was aimed at overcoming Turkey's objections to Sweden's bid to join the NATO military alliance.

"At this point, Swedish Defence Minister Pal Jonson's visit to Turkey on January 27 has lost its significance and meaning, so we cancelled the visit," Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said.

Jonson also confirmed the decision to postpone the visit, which he said was made together with Akar at the US military base in Ramstein, Germany, on Friday.

"Our relations with Turkey are very important to Sweden, and we look forward to continuing the dialogue on common security and defence issues at a later date," he tweeted.

Paludan has expressed his intention to "burn the Koran", Islam's holy book, during his protest on Saturday.

In April last year, Paludan's announcement of a Koran burning "tour" for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan sparked riots across Sweden.

The right-wing ally of the government was more furious.

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