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article imageSweden, Saudi Arabia to resume normal diplomatic relations

By Nathan Salant     Mar 29, 2015 in World
Stockholm - Saudi Arabia and Sweden have agreed to resume normal diplomatic relations two weeks after they were unexpectedly interrupted by a row over critical comments from Stockholm.
Saudi Arabia’s government-owned TV station Al Arabiya said Friday that Riyadh would be sending its ambassador back to Sweden after being assured that comments made by Sweden’s foreign minister were not meant as an insult to the kingdom or to Islam.
“We hope to soon see the Saudi ambassador back in Stockholm and a return to normal relations between our countries,” Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom said in a written statement, according to the [url=http:// http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/27/us-saudi-sweden-idUSKBN0MN2H220150327 t=_blank]Reuters news service.
Saudi Arabia recalled Ambassador Ibraham bin Saad Al-Ibrahim earlier this month to protest Wallstrom’s criticism of the monarchy's treatment of women and dissidents.
Wallstrom had criticized Saudi Arabia's flogging of human rights activist blogger Raif Badawi in a statement on the popular microblogging website Twitter, calling it a "cruel attempt to silence modern forms of expression."
In the past, Wallstrom has also criticized Saudi Arabia’s treatment of women, who are not permitted to drive cars and often must obtain approval from a male guardian for important decisions.
Apparently in response to Wallstrom’s comments, Saudi Arabia cancelled a speech she was scheduled to give to the League of Arab States, and Sweden terminated a long-running weapons deal with Riyadh, Reuters said.
Wallstrom is a member of Sweden’s new ruling coalition that was elected in October on a platform that included promoting feminist issues and causes worldwide.
Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest buyer of Sweden-manufactured weaponry.
The two countries also are members of the U.S.-assembled 60-nation coalition to battle the militant group ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
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