Swedish daily: Ministers will not scrap Saudi arms deal

Prime Minister Stefan Löfven and Minister for Foreign Affairs Margot Wallström have agreed that Sweden should not unilaterally seek to end its military cooperation with Saudi Arabia, newspaper Svenska Dagbladet reports.

SvD claims that a possible reason for the ministers' reluctance to scrap the deal is that it could weaken Sweden's chances to earn a spot in the UN Security Council.

Sweden has until May 15 to decide whether it wants to scrap a military cooperation deal with Saudi Arabia which went into effect in 2005. The deal has been heavily criticized by some members of the ruling Social Democrats and their government partners Green Party who say Sweden should not provide military services and sell arms to an authoritarian state, with many calling Saudi Arabia a dictatorship.

Svenska Dagbladet reports that one of the new government's biggest foreign policy priorities is to win a seat on the United Nations Security Council, claiming that was one of the reasons behind Sweden's recognition of the Palestinian state. A move that was welcomed in the Arab world.

Saudi Arabia is part of the so-called "development group" G77 which is comprised of 132 of the UN's 193 member states. The level of support from that group could determine whether Sweden earns its coveted spot in the Security Council when the UN General Assembly votes, SvD claims.

Valter Mutt, foreign policy spokesperson for the Green Party criticized the strategy saying, "There's no point in getting into the Security Council if we have sold out on what we stand for."

Speaking with news agency TT, the press secretary for Wallström, Erik Boman, said that the government was still discussing the Saudi agreement and would make an announcement soon. He denied that there was a connection between the agreement and Sweden's candidacy for the Security Council.

The Saudi agreement can be dissolved or renegotiated at any time as long as both parties agree to the change. A one-party change to the agreement would require six-month notice, according to the deal.