Europe

Saudis refuse Swedish zoo's monkeys in diplomatic spat

Pygmy marmoset at Skansen zoo Image copyright AFP
Image caption No more monkey business: The marmoset deal was agreed before the diplomatic row erupted

Saudi Arabia has refused to accept four tiny Amazonian monkeys from a Swedish zoo because of a diplomatic row, Swedish media report.

The pygmy marmosets at Skansen zoo in Stockholm had been destined for a Riyadh zoo.

"They didn't want the monkeys anymore because of the political situation," said Skansen zoo boss Jonas Wahlstrom.

Last month the Saudi ambassador to Sweden was recalled, after Sweden ended an arms deal in a human rights dispute.

Weighing just over 100 grams (3.5 oz) each pygmy marmosets are the smallest primates in the world.

"It's a little comical. I'll just have to wait until they grant visas to Swedish businessmen again. Maybe monkeys will get visas then too," said Mr Wahlstrom, quoted by Radio Sweden.

Last month Saudi Arabia attacked Sweden's Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom for an "offensive" speech which it called "blatant interference" in its internal affairs.

Saudi Arabia prevented her from reading the speech at a meeting of the Arab League in Cairo.

In the speech, Ms Wallstrom called for "freedom of association, assembly, religion and expression" and for Arab nations to "focus attention on women's rights, women's representation and their adequate resources".

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