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Fri 30 Mar 2012 11:41 AM

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Swedish minister quits in Saudi weapons row

Sten Tolgfors resigns over claims Sweden planned to help build plant for Gulf kingdom

Swedish minister quits in Saudi weapons row
Swedish Defence Minister Sten Tolgfors.

Sweden's defence minister has resigned in the wake of weeks of allegations he knew about controversial plans for the Nordic state to help build a weapons plant for Saudi Arabia.

Defence Minister Sten Tolgfors survived the initial reports in early March about plans for the weapons plant by saying he had not known of them.

But reports of the details of the affair have continued to surface, increasing pressure on him.

Tolgfors denied any wrongdoing and insisted the plans to help Saudi Arabia build a facility for anti-tank weapons were consistent with a 2005 military agreement between the two countries.

"The media reports in recent weeks have facilitated and hastened my decision," he told reporters in Stockholm.

Sweden has no ban on weapons exports to Saudi Arabia, but the reports suggested the deal was set up in a way to avoid a public discussion on the issue.

Tolgfors defended the plans, saying they were in line with the military cooperation agreement signed by the two countries in 2005 and renewed in 2010.

* With Agencies

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