Swedish foreign minister cancels Arab League speech (dpa German Press Agency)

Stockholm (dpa) – Saudi Arabia on Monday blocked Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom from giving a planned speech at a meeting of the Arab League in Cairo, she told Swedish Radio news.
“I had looked forward to speaking at the invitation of the Arab League,” Wallstrom told Swedish Radio’s correspondent in Cairo.
“This puts the Arab League in a difficult position since it means that one country can block an event of this nature,” she added.
Wallstrom said she would continue to stand up for democracy and human rights – issues which had apparently annoyed Saudi Arabia.
She said she had not planned to mention Saudi Arabia directly in her remarks at the gathering of foreign ministers.
Wallstrom said she would continue to work on these issues with the foreign minister of Egypt and others.
The invitation to Wallstrom came againt the backdrop of the new Swedish government’s decision in October to officially recognize the state of Palestine, a move which angered Israel.
Meanwhile, Sweden is currently reviewing a series of agreements signed in 2005 with Saudi Arabia.
Revisions to the agreements that run for five-year periods must be made at the latest in May, and recently discussion has heated up over an agreement on military cooperation.
Critics including members of the Greens, junior partner in the Swedish coalition government, have questioned whether Sweden should cooperate so closely with Saudi Arabia given its human rights record and authoritarian rule.