“Saudi Arabia restores ambassador to Sweden following diplomatic dispute,” i24 News, March 28, 2015 (thanks to Jerk Chicken):
Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Sweden will soon return to Stockholm, Swedish officials said Saturday, more than two weeks after he was recalled home amid a diplomatic spat over human rights.
“I’m very pleased that we can resume our normal diplomatic ties,” Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstroem told reporters.
The announcement followed a visit to Riyadh by Swedish government envoy Bjoern von Sydow on Friday, where he met with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman.
According to Swedish news agency TT, von Sydow relayed messages from Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf and Prime Minister Stefan Loefven during the meeting.
“We can … welcome the Saudi ambassador back to Sweden (and) we can clear up the misunderstanding that we have insulted the religion of Islam,” Wallstroem added.
Lofen is reported to have apologized for comments which offended the kingdom but added that he hoped Saudi Arabia would understand Sweden’s honest concerns regarding human rights.
Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf who had offered the government his help in defusing tensions, spoke to Saudi King Salman about the strong relations between the two countries, Al Arabiya reported.
Sweden had been seeking to quell an unprecedented diplomatic spat over human rights with Saudi Arabia which saw ambassadors recalled and arms sales cancelled, drawing comparisons with Denmark’s Mohammed cartoons controversy.
Stockholm’s relations with Riyadh had nosedived since leftist Foreign Minister Margot Wallstroem told parliament in a February speech the oil-rich state was a “dictatorship” that violated women’s rights and whipped bloggers.
Sweden’s government announced a “feminist” foreign policy when it took power in September.
Rights groups accuse Saudi Arabia of meting out brutal punishments to dissidents and religious minorities, and excluding women from most areas of public life.
The crisis in relations between Stockholm and Riyadh was cemented earlier this month when Sweden ended an arms agreement with Riyadh, despite warnings from business leaders about the potential impact on exports to the Gulf state, worth about $1.3 billion (1.2 billion euros).
Wallstroem has throughout the diplomatic row maintained that she has the support of the Swedish people in expressing her position.
And she told daily Expressen on Saturday: “I do not regret my choice of words.”
Von Sydow said he had stopped short of an apology during his talks with the king.
“I said we were very sorry if there were feelings of misunderstanding about what was said from the Swedish side, and said that we want to have a dialogue,” he said.
“Sweden wants to have a dialogue on all questions, including those where we have different opinions,” he added.
Wallstroem said her comments — including calling Saudi Arabia’s whipping of dissident blogger Raif Badawi in January “medieval” — were never directed against Islam for which she had “the greatest respect”….