US, EU seek details of Saudi arrests but dodge Canada spat

10 August, 2018, 15:29 | Author: Clarence Schmidt
  • Minister Justin Trudeau and Canada's Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland hold a news conference after participati

Saudi Arabia expelled the Canadian ambassador on Monday and froze "all new business" with Ottawa over criticism of its arrest of women's rights activists.

Canada expressed concern over the arrests of activists in Saudi Arabia, including women's rights campaigner Samar Badawi, and called for their release.

The Saudi Foreign Ministry took exception to the wording of the tweet, calling it an attempt by Canada to interfere with the country's internal affairs. In little more than a year, the kingdom has led a four-country coalition that severed ties with neighbouring Qatar, recalled its ambassador to Germany and cut back its trade dealings with some German companies amid a diplomatic row.

Freeland also said Haidar and her family merit special attention from the government of Canada, adding, "a lot of Canadian civil society has been speaking up for her".

Canada is planning to seek help from Saudi Arabia's closest ally, the UAE, and Britain to defuse the dispute which looks set to damage what is a modest bilateral trade relationship worth almost $4 billion a year. Freeland said the embassy in Saudi Arabia is still in place and providing services to Canadians.

"This particular case regarding Canada - we have raised that with the government of Saudi Arabia". "It's a message to countries across Europe and across the rest of the world that criticism of Saudi Arabia. has consequences".

On Thursday, Aug. 2, Chrystia Freeland, Canada's foreign minister, sent out a tweet regarding human rights in the Middle East kingdom.

Canada has said it is "gravely concerned" about the arrests and has called for those detained to be released immediately.

Badawi's wife and children now live in Canada.

"We want to continue to talk about the fact that women and men should have equality in this country and other countries", she said. The country's education ministry is reportedly looking to move thousands of Saudi scholarship students out of Canadian schools, while Saudi Arabia's state airline said it would suspend flights to and from Toronto.

Last March, Mr Trudeau was defending the deal in the House of Commons, arguing that "the exports are consistent with our foreign and defence policies, including human rights". While total trade between Canada and Saudi Arabia averages around $4 billion annually, the market had been considered relatively stable by Canadian grain exporters, notably those who specialize in barley.

State-run television has reported that Riyadh will stop training, scholarship and fellowship programs in Canada - a move that will apparently affect the scholarships of more than 15,000 students attending university in Canada. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers were citizens of Saudi Arabia, and Saudi royals have always been accused of complicity in the attack.

"The only class of wheat that Canada still exports to the region is durum but even that is not that much".

Maritime universities are keeping a very close eye on a sudden and serious diplomatic spat between Canada and Saudi Arabia.

A Financial Times reporter, Ahmed Al Omran, citing Saudi state TV, tweeted that students would be transferred to schools in the USA, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand.


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