Published: Wed, August 08, 2018
World Media | By Shelia Harmon

US Weighs In on Saudi-Canada Diplomatic Dispute

US Weighs In on Saudi-Canada Diplomatic Dispute

A diplomatic row between Saudi Arabia and Canada has escalated after Ottawa's foreign ministry rebuked Riyadh for jailing human rights activists in the kingdom and demanded their immediate release.

Saudi officials expelled Canada's ambassador, giving him 24 hours to leave the country, and recalled its own envoy to Ottawa, while freezing all new trade over what it slammed as "interference" in its internal affairs.

The Middle Eastern nation has also frozen all new trade and investment with Canada, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

The state airline operates at least two routes flying from Toronto. Riyadh accused Ottawa on Tuesday of interfering in its internal affairs.

She was arrested last week after years of punishment by Saudi authorities, including a 2014 travel ban and a 2016 arrest.

Local media also reported that Saudi Arabia had been instructed not to transfer its patients to Canada for medical treatment.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said Monday the Canadian government will continue to raise its voice and defend human rights.

Momani called it, "getting tough on Canada", which she said other countries in the region might welcome if they view Canadian foreign policy to be led by human rights concerns.

The United States said Tuesday that both Canada and Saudi Arabia are "close partners" of the US, and asked the Saudi government for more information of the detention of several activists.

"The United Arab Emirates are going to want to maintain relationships with Canada".

Saudi Arabian airlines announced the suspension flights to and from Toronto from August 13 in the latest escalation in the diplomatic spat that broke out earlier this week. But his reforms include no changes that would liberalize a political system that allows no public dissent.

Paul stressed the situation is worse when the government does what it wants in secret and is not singled out for alleged human rights violations.

Riyadh has a record of responding robustly to Western criticism under Mohammed bin Salman.

Saint Mary's University estimated there are about 100 students from Saudi Arabia studying at their campus while there were 80 at Mount Saint Vincent during the winter semester. The U.S. also said it continued to encourage the Saudi government to "ensure all are afforded due process".

That's less than 10 per cent of total imports and amounts to a "drop in the bucket" compared with the United States, she said, which accounts for two-thirds of imports and could easily cover Saudi's share thanks to growing domestic production.

Freeland would only tell reporters Monday that the Canadian ambassador is "fine" and would not disclose his location.

"We are waiting for Saudi Arabia to offer some more specifics on what they intend to do", Freeland said when asked about the arms deal.

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