Chile's President Michelle Bachelet has expressed thanks to Sweden for helping thousands of Chileans escape persecution during the dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet.

On the first-ever state visit by a Chilean president to the Nordic country, Bachelet on Tuesday highlighted the efforts of the Swedish prime minister at the time, Olof Palme and Harald Edelstam, who was the country's ambassador to Chile.

Bachelet told reporters in Stockholm that "Chile will never stop being grateful for that helpful hand."

Her father was arrested and tortured for opposing Pinochet's 1973 coup and died in police custody.

Sweden is now home to about 50,000 immigrants from Chile, one of the biggest Chilean communities outside the Americas.