Claims Swedish PM will not end Saudi arms deal

Claims Swedish PM will not end Saudi arms deal
Swedish PM Stefan Löfven has come under attack. Photo: Maja Suslin/TT
Swedish ministers have agreed not to end a controversial military arms deal with Saudi Arabia, according to newspaper Svenska Dagbladet, which claims the reason is that Sweden does not want to risk a place on the UN Security Council.

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Prime Minister Stefan Löfven was on Wednesday set to meet with his German counterpart Angela Merkel to discuss the conflict in Ukraine and economic challenges facing Europe.

But on home soil he was coming under attack over Sweden's military co-operation agreement with Saudi Arabia, a regime often accused of severe human rights violations.

Erik Boman, press secretary for Foreign Minister Margot Wallström, told news wire TT that the issue is still being debated by the ministry.

“We hope to be able to offer a decision on this agreement shortly,” he said. He added that there was no link between Sweden's hope to win a place on the Security Council and the co-operation with Saudi Arabia.

Meanwhile, several parties are urging greater transparency from Sweden's Export Control Council (ECC), a non-partisan advisory committee which assesses export matters.

“It is our view that with increased openness, politicians on the ECC and the industries concerned will think twice before they apply to trade with countries that are not suitable,” Liberal MP Allan Widman, of Sweden's centre-right opposition, told Swedish Radio.

Christian Democrat MP Desiree Pethrus said: “We think that the parliament should be given more information about what the weapons trade looks like, but also that the public should be able to demand answers from their politicians.”

Sweden exported eight billion kronor's worth of armaments in 2014, down by 33 percent since the previous year. Almost 17 percent of Swedish total exports go to countries like Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Thailand, Oman and Algeria.

The Swedish parliament is currently investigating how to end weapon exports to non-democracies and is set to present its findings in mid-April.