Thursday, March 12, 2015

Sweden Decides to End Saudi Arabia Arms Deal; Due to Saudis Blocking Sweden's Right to Speak

The Swedish government this week decided to scrap an arms deal in which it sold millions of dollars worth of military equipment to Saudi Arabia annually, following complaints by Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom that she was blocked from speaking on women's rights at a gathering of the Arab League in Cairo, the Washington Post website reports today (March 12, 2015).

Tensions between the two nations have grown so acute that Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador to Sweden yesterday. Wallstrom's planned remarks in Cairo made no specific reference to Saudi Arabia, but did urge reform on issues of women's rights.

The Saudi foreign ministry deemed her comments about being barred from speaking "offensive" and "blatant interference in its internal affairs."

In an interview with Swedish media, Wallstrom had described the punishment for a dissident Saudi  blogger who was sentenced to 1,000 lashes as "medieval."

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