Saudi Arabia accuses Sweden of 'interfering in its internal affairs' and recalls ambassador over human rights criticism

Sweden also announced it would not renew a 2005 military cooperation deal worth millions

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The Independent Online

Saudi Arabia has recalled its ambassador from Stockholm amid a growing diplomatic row between the two countries over criticism of Riyadh's human rights record.

Swedish Foreign Ministry spokesman Gabriel Wernstedt said the Kingdom had informed the ministry that it was recalling Ambassador Ibrahim bin Saad Al-Ibrahim because of "Sweden's criticism regarding human rights and democracy".

It comes a day after Sweden announced it would not renew a 2005 military cooperation deal with Saudi Arabia due to expire in May. The deal was netted 4.8 billion crowns (£371 million) between 2011 and 2014.

Sweden cancelled the deal shortly after its foreign minister Margot Wallstrom was barred from addressing the Arab League in Cairo following protests from Saudi delegates earlier this week.

In February, Wallstrom told parliament Saudi Arabia violated women's rights and criticised the flogging of Saudi activist and blogger Raif Badawi. She also described Saudi Arabia as a "dictatorship."

The Arab League later agreed a resolution denouncing remarks by Wallstrom to the Swedish parliament, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

Saudi Arabia said the move to recall the ambassador was prompted by remarks from Wallstrom that amounted to "an interference in its internal affairs" in violation of international covenants and diplomatic conventions.

Additional reporting by agencies