King says his letter helped Sweden end spat with Saudis

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King says his letter helped Sweden end spat with Saudis
The King is very focused on diplomacy. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT

Remember when Sweden was locked in a diplomatic spat with Saudi Arabia last year? A previously unidentified saviour has stepped up to claim credit for ending the conflict: King Carl XVI Gustaf.


First, a brief recap. Sweden and Saudi Arabia were not on the best of terms last spring, with Foreign Minister Margot Wallström being blocked from giving a speech to the Arab League, Sweden scrapping a military deal with the Saudis, ambassadors being recalled in pretty much all directions and so on.

It was very messy and everyone was very concerned. Including King Carl XVI Gustaf.

But the King of Sweden is not one to sit on his hands. In an interview with an SVT journalist, due to be broadcast tonight, he revealed how he believes a letter he wrote to his Saudi counterpart King Salman Abdul Aziz at the time was instrumental in putting an end to the bitter conflict.

"Of course you try to help, I think anyone would do that. It was very nice to try to solve a problem that was there at the time," the King told the journalist in a short clip published on Thursday morning.

"I think it was the key that helped unlock the relations a little," he cryptically added.

He said that he penned the letter after the Swedish government asked for his help to intervene in the seemingly never-ending diplomatic row, but would not reveal how he had convinced the two countries to kiss and make up.

"These are things that happen behind the scenes, you can't discuss it. Quiet diplomacy is the only sustainable thing when it comes to things like this," he said.

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But apparently it is not the first time the King, who primarily serves as a figurehead and has very limited powers, has stepped in to sort out conflicts with other nations.

"That you have that opportunity and that trust, that's what it is all built on – relations and contacts. That's why you make all those state visits. They open up lines of contact so that afterwards you can actually write a little letter," he told the SVT documentary.

The programme, called 'The King at 70 – Lonely Majesty' ('Kungen 70 år – Ensamt Majestät'), is set to air on Thursday evening, April 28th, on SVT1. 


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