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Egypt expresses concern over Sweden-Saudi rift

Recent Swedish-Saudi Arabia rift saw the termination of a ten-year-old military cooperation, recalling the Saudi Arabian ambassador as well as back and forth critical comments

Ahram Online , Wednesday 25 Mar 2015
Hatem Seif El-Nasr
Egypt's Foreign Minister's aid for European affairs Ambassador Hatem Seif El-Nasr (Photo: Ministry of foreign Affairs website)
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Egypt expressed on Tuesday concern over the ongoing diplomatic rift between Sweden and Saudi Arabia, stressing it wants to see good relations between both countries, state news agency MENA reported.

During his meeting with Sweden's ambassador to Cairo Charlotta Sparre, the Egyptian foreign minister’s aide for European affairs Hatem Seif El-Nasr pointed out the potential unwelcomed repercussions of Sweden-Saudi Arabian strife.

The recent tension between the two countries comes after Sweden openly criticised Riyadh's human rights record.

In January, Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom denounced in a tweet Saudi Arabia's flogging of human rights activist blogger Raif Badawi, calling it a "cruel attempt to silence modern forms of expression."

Wallstrom has also criticised Saudi treatment of women who are banned from driving in the kingdom, and are required to obtain special permission from male guardians before carrying out a multitude of day-to-day activities.

Saudi Arabia rejected Wallstrom's comments as "flagrant interference" in its internal affairs, recalling its ambassador to Sweden.

Stockholm has also decided not to renew a ten-year-old military cooperation agreement with Riyadh due to mounting concerns over rights.

In the meeting Tuesday, Seif El-Nasr stressed that Sweden observe the principle of non-interference in other countries' internal affairs, and refrain from using language which could be deemed "insulting to others beliefs and religions."

Relations between countries have to be based on mutual respect for different political and judicial systems, Seif El-Nasr added.

On her side, Sparre stressed Sweden's respect for the Islamic nations, saying her country is looking forward to the return of normal relations with Saudi Arabia the soonest opportunity.

Saudi Arabia, a strong Gulf ally to Cairo, has politically and economically supported Egypt following the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

Riyadh has pledged billions of dollars in aid to Egypt which has been hit by four years of economic and political turmoil. 

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