March 18, 2015 / 4:44 PM / in 3 years

United Arab Emirates recalls envoy to Sweden

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - The United Arab Emirates has recalled its ambassador to Sweden, a Swedish government source with knowledge of the matter said on Wednesday, a week after Saudi Arabia took the same step.

The moves by the two Gulf Arab states reflect growing tension with Stockholm after Sweden’s Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom called Saudi Arabia a dictatorship last month and denounced its treatment of women and the flogging of human rights activist and blogger Raif Badawi.

Sweden last week also canceled a long-standing defense cooperation agreement with Saudi Arabia. That followed Saudi Arabia’s decision to block a speech due to be given by Wallstrom to the Arab League this week.

The United Arab Emirates state news agency WAM later confirmed that the UAE had recalled its envoy.

It said the Swedish ambassador had been summoned for a protest regarding statements by Wallstrom against Saudi Arabia that “violate the principle of sovereignty upon which the normal relations between countries are based”.

Last week Saudi Arabia recalled its own envoy to Stockholm after branding Swedish criticism of its human rights record as “interference in its internal affairs”.

The Swedish Foreign Ministry declined to comment on Wednesday on the UAE envoy, referring questions to Wallstrom’s spokesman who was not immediately available for comment.

Reporting by Johan Sennero and Helena Soderpalm, additional reporting by Dubai Newsroom, writing by Niklas Pollard and Daniel Dickson, editing by Dominic Evans

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