Sweden row with Gulf states heats up: UAE recalls ambassador; Saudi Arabia stops business visas to Swedes

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The United Arab Emirates said Wednesday that it has recalled its ambassador to Sweden to protest comments made by Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom criticizing neighboring Saudi Arabia.

The move comes one week after Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador to Sweden after Wallstrom strongly criticized the women’s rights situation in Saudi Arabia and the flogging in January of a Saudi blogger convicted of insulting Islam and breaking Internet laws.

The official UAE news agency, WAM, reported that Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash also summoned Sweden’s Ambassador to the UAE Jan Thesleff to formally condemn the “abusive remarks” made about Saudi Arabia and its judicial system.

Gargash said Wallstrom’s statements “violate the principle of sovereignty upon which the normal relations between countries are based” and fail to respect “the religious and cultural particularities of states and communities”…

(Reuters) – Saudi Arabia has refused to issue any business visas to Swedes, Stockholm’s Foreign Ministry said on Thursday, in the latest move in a diplomatic row over Swedish criticism of Riyadh’s human rights record.

Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador to Stockholm earlier this month, after Sweden ended a long-standing defence cooperation agreement with Saudi Arabia. A few days earlier, Riyadh cancelled a speech due to be given to the League of Arab States by Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom.

“We have received information that Saudi Arabia has stopped giving business visa to Swedish citizens,” Wallstrom’s spokesman Erik Boman said. The Swedish government was given no specific reason for the move and hoped the row would end soon, he said…