Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs, Hatem Seif El-Nasr, met with Swedish Ambassador Charlotta Sparre on Tuesday to address the ongoing crisis between Sweden and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, according to a statement released by the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
El-Nasr spoke of the “need to establish the principle of non-interference in internal affairs”, but expressed Egypt’s keenness in “establishing relations of cooperation and mutual respect between the Arab countries and Sweden without prejudice towards Arabic and Islamic values”.
For her part, Ambassador Sparre said the Swedish government wanted the “return of normal relations with Saudi Arabia […] and end the crisis”.
The relationship between Saudi Arabia and Sweden became problematic earlier this month when Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom accused Saudi Arabia of blocking her speech at an Arab League meeting which was to take place on invitation by the league’s secretary general Nabil El-Araby.
Wallstrom named her criticism of Saudi Arabia’s human rights policies as the reason for the cancellation of her speech. In the ensuing diplomatic conflict, Sweden cancelled a long-standing arms deal with Saudi Arabia while the Kingdom stopped issuing visas for Swedish citizens and recalled its ambassador to the Scandinavian country.
The role of Sweden, as one of the fastest-growing arms exporters of the world and one of the first European countries to recognise the State of Palestine, makes it an important partner for Egypt, while Saudi Arabia has pledged big amounts of financial aid to the government in Cairo.