Saudi Arabia has recalled its Stockholm ambassador, the Swedish foreign ministry said Wednesday as the rift between the two countries deepened in the wake of Sweden cutting military ties.
“Diplomatic relations are not broken. But Saudi Arabia’s ambassador has been recalled,” spokesman Erik Boman told AFP after Sweden scrapped military cooperation with the conservative Islamic kingdom on Tuesday.
Sweden scrapped a long-standing military deal with the Saudis on Tuesday after accusing the country of blocking Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstroem from speaking at an Arab League meeting.
“This is not a game. It’s a serious issue that must be treated seriously,” Social Democrat Prime Minister Stefan Loefven told public broadcaster Swedish Radio on Wednesday.
His party had come under intense pressure to abandon the deal from coalition partners the Green Party.
The Social Democrats refused to cite human rights as a motive for the decision but Wallstroem had said her opening speech at Monday’s meeting in Cairo was blocked by the Saudis for her pro-democracy stance in the region.
The deal involved exchanges of military products, logistics, technology and training. The Swedish defense minister said only cooperation in medicine and gender studies would remain on offer.