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Ambassador recalled in Sweden-Saudi diplomatic row

By Ed Adamczyk
Ambassador recalled in Sweden-Saudi diplomatic row
Swedish Forign Minister Margot Wallstrom Photo courtesy of CC/ wikimedia.org/ F. Fougethin.

STOCKHOLM, Sweden, March 11 (UPI) -- A Sweden-Saudi Arabia military cooperation agreement was scrapped and the Saudi Ambassador to Sweden was recalled after a diplomatic rift over human rights between the two countries.

Sweden withdrew from the agreement, signed in 2005 and renewed in 2010. Its withdrawal was prompted by complaints over Saudi Arabia's human rights record from Sweden's Green Party, the smaller party in Sweden's ruling coalition, as well as from the national media which questions whether Sweden---a country whose foreign policy specifically attempts to promote human rights---should have military ties to a country where freedom of speech and other rights are regarded as minimized.

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Ambassador Ibhahim al-Brahim returned to Saudi Arabia.

Sweden left the military pact after it accused Saudi Arabia of arranging the cancellation of a speech by Swedish Foreign Minister, Margot Wallstrom, to an Arab League meeting Monday in Cairo. The speech, later published online, referred regularly to human and individual rights. Swedish Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist said Tuesday the military agreement, which included the exchange of training and military technology, was scrapped because "in practice, the military cooperation is not ongoing."

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