The ambassador's return to Saudi Arabia was in protest over an off-the-cuff remark made by Hungary's Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany.

 

Gyurcsany's comment was made earlier this month when he hailed Hungary's football team for having "fought with death-defying courage" against "Arab terrorists" in a friendly match against Saudi Arabia on 2 February.

 

"We received official notice this week that the Saudi Arabian ambassador in Budapest was called back by his government for consultations," Foreign Ministry spokesman Viktor Polgar said on Saturday.

 

Gyurcsany, a socialist, has since apologised for his remarks, once publicly in a radio interview and several times through diplomatic channels, his spokeswoman said, adding that Budapest saw no further diplomatic gestures as necessary.

 

"The prime minister has apologised publicly and also in a letter delivered to the Saudi government by our ambassador in Riyadh," Gyurcsany's spokeswoman Boglar Laszlo said.

 

"Our foreign minister has also apologised via the Saudi ambassador in Budapest.

 

"We do not feel any further diplomatic gestures are necessary," she said.

 

Trip cancelled

 

Meanwhile, an official trip Hungary's speaker of parliament was to make to Saudi Arabia on Monday and Tuesday has been cancelled.

 

Socialist party officials quoted by the right-wing daily Magyar Nemzet on Saturday said speaker Katalin Szili would not be making the trip because of domestic political reasons.

 

But the daily said its sources said Saudi Arabian officials had called off the visit to protest against Gyurcsany's remark.

 

Szili plans to go ahead with the second leg of her Middle Eastern trip to Syria on Wednesday and Thursday.