Europe Saudi Arabia to return Sweden envoy after ‘apology’: TV

Saudi Arabia to return Sweden envoy after ‘apology’: TV


 Sweden's Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom
Sweden’s Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom

(AA) – Saudi Arabia on Friday decided to send its ambassador back to Sweden 16 days after recalling him over remarks by Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom in which she criticized the kingdom’s human rights record.

“Saudi Arabia’s ambassador in Sweden to return to his post,” the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya news channel said via Twitter.

“The Swedish government offers its apology for crisis in relations with Saudi Arabia,” Al-Arabiya reported, quoting Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven as apologizing “if any interpretation [of Wallstrom’s remarks] caused offense to Saudi Arabia or Islam.”

The network added that the Swedish King “confirmed to King Salman [of Saudi Arabia] the strength and resilience of relations between the two countries.”

Earlier this month, Riyadh recalled its ambassador from Stockholm after decrying Wallstrom’s “interference” in its affairs.

The Swedish government had refused to renew a 2005 defense cooperation agreement with Saudi Arabia, attributing the decision to “human rights violations” by the oil-rich kingdom.

The Riyadh-Stockholm row erupted earlier this month after Saudi Arabia blocked a planned speech by Wallstrom at the Cairo-based Arab League due to her previous criticisms of Riyadh’s rights record.

In January, Wallstrom had described the flogging of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi as a “cruel attempt to silence modern forms of expression.”

Last year, a Saudi court sentenced the 30-year-old Badawi to ten years in prison, 1,000 lashes, and a fine of 1 million Saudi riyals (roughly $266,000) for “insulting Islam” and establishing the Saudi Liberal Forum, an online discussion forum.

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