In a press conference at the Belgium Foreign Ministry, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said that he is optimistic that the embargo and siege imposed on the Palestinian people and their government could be lifted soon.The statements of Abbas came fowling a meeting with the Swedish Prime Minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt, and the Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt.

He stated that there are positive developments that would lead to lifting the siege, but “we have to wait until hearing the official European position which will be declared after the EU Foreign Ministers conclude their Monday meeting”.

Abbas thanked Sweden and its king Carl XVI Gustav, and noted that Sweden has relations with the different sides of the Arab-Israeli conflict and always played an important political role in the region.

He also stated that an economic agreement had been reached during his talks; the agreement is between the Swedish International Development Institution and the Palestinian Liberation Organization on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, and is worth 160 million Swedish Kronas.

During his talks with the Swedish officials, Abbas confirmed the importance of the Arab Peace Initiative that was presented in Lebanon during the 2002 Arab League Summit and was reaffirmed in this years’ summit in Saudi Arabia.

He added that the international embargo must be lifted in order to enable the Palestinian government to carry out its duties.

Abbas also held talks regarding the issue of releasing the captured BBC journalist, and the captured Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit.

Abbas added that the Palestinian security devices obtained positive information that the abducted BBC reporter Alan Johnston is alive, and added that the Palestinian Authority and leadership want his safe and unconditional release.

Meanwhile, the Swedish Prime Minister welcomed Abbas and stated that Sweden support the National Unity Government adding that this government represents the majority of the Palestinian people.

Moreover, Abbas said that only a comprehensive peace would be able to end the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and that the Palestinians must be able to establish their viable and contiguous independent state.