UAE Recalls Envoy from Sweden Over Saudi Rift

Gulf News23.03.2015 UAE
UAE Recalls Envoy from Sweden Over Saudi Rift

UAE Recalls Envoy from Sweden Over Saudi Rift

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The United Arab Emirates recalled on Wednesday Sultan Rashid Al Kaitoub, its Ambassador to Sweden, and summoned Swedish Ambassador in the country to protest Swedish Foreign Minister’s offensive statements against Saudi Arabia.

The Foreign Ministry summoned Jan Thesleff, the Swedish Ambassador, and handed him a protest note in the wake of the statements by Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom against Saudi Arabia and its judicial system.

Dr. Anwar Mohammad Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs (photo), expressed the UAE’s strong condemnation of the statements delivered by Sweden’s Foreign Minister in the Swedish Parliament.

“These remarks violate the principle of sovereignty on which normal relations between countries are based on, as they are considered interference in other country’s domestic affairs that do not respect religious and cultural characteristics of other countries and communities,” Dr. Gargash said. 

Wallstrom provoked a political storm last week when she made remarks about Saudi Arabia’s social norms and judicial system that Riyadh condemned as “a blatant interference in its domestic affairs.”

On 12 March 2015, Saudi Arabia recalled its Ambassador in Stockholm in the middle of a spat triggered by Wallstrom’s remarks and that led to the Swedish decision to end its military cooperation with Riyadh.

Arab Foreign Ministers, rallying behind Saudi Arabia, last week issued a joint statement, voicing “their condemnation and astonishment at the issuance of such statements that are incompatible with the fact that the Constitution of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is based on Sharia (Islamic law).”

Amid the widening rift, Saudi Arabia refused to issue any business visas to Swedes, Stockholm’s Foreign Ministry said, according to Reuters.

Meanwhile, many Swedish business leaders - including those in the country’s large defense industry - are fearful that the rift with the Arab Gulf states, especially with Saudi Arabia, could have large economic implications.

Early this month, a group of 31 top Swedish business leaders - including Volvo’s Head, fashion chain H&M’s Chairman Stefan Persson and bank group SEB’s CEO Annika Falkengren - petitioned Stockholm to negotiate a new defense-industrial agreement with Riyadh in order to safeguard Swedish exports and business interests with Arab nations.

Source: Gulf News, WAM; Reuters



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