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King holds Saudi talks with Foreign Minister

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King holds Saudi talks with Foreign Minister
Sweden's Foreign Minister Margot Wallström with King Carl XVI Gustaf. Photo: TT
12:34 CET+01:00
UPDATED: Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf has held talks with Foreign Minister Margot Wallström at the Royal Palace, with the pair discussing their country's diplomatic spat with Saudi Arabia.
The meeting was scheduled before a major rift between the two countries emerged earlier this month, with Saudi Arabia blocking Wallström’s speech on democracy and human rights as a guest of honour addressing the Arab League and Sweden later limiting its military ties with the Saudis.
 
Tensions have since escalated so much that Saudi Arabia has halted all visas for Swedish business people and withdrawn its ambassador to Stockholm.
 
Over the weekend the Royal Palace announced that the king would meet Sweden’s top diplomat on Monday “to help contribute in finding a solution to the situation”.
 
“It’s important to have a good dialogue and good relations between countries,” the king was quoted as saying.
 
After the talks concluded, Margareta Thorgren, a spokeswoman for the Royal Palace told The Local: "The foreign minister and the head of state met today. It was a meeting that has been planned for a long time. The main purpose was to plan ahead, but because of recent events concerning Saudi Arabia the meeting was extended and Saudi Arabia was discussed."
 
"It was a good meeting held in a positive spirit. We cannot disclose any details but of course the government works to recreate good relations with Saudi Arabia," she added.
 
Asked if the King had used his own connections in Saudi Arabia to mediate in the conflict, she said: "The King has not ahead of the meeting made any contact and I cannot comment on whether anything was agreed on in today's meeting."
 
The Swedish king primarily serves as a figurehead and has very limited powers.
 
Margot Wallström's press spokesperson Erik Boman added that the pair had had a "good meeting" but would not elaborate on what had been discussed.
 
"The government works systematically and intensively to establish and maintain good relations with other countries, but how we do that and through what channels is something we won't comment on," he told The Local.
 
 

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