Canada asking allies to help cool Saudi dispute

Saudi Press Agency

The tensions seem to have begun with a tweet from Canada's Foreign Affairs Department, which decried the detention of some female activists in Saudi Arabia.

Canada plans to seek help from the United Arab Emirates and Britain to defuse an escalating dispute with Saudi Arabia, sources told Reuters news agency on Tuesday, while the United States made clear it would not get involved. "We are always going to speak up for human rights, we're always going to speak up for women's rights, and that is not going to change".

The Saudi Foreign Ministry cited remarks last week by Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and the Canadian embassy in Riyadh, criticizing the arrests of women's rights activists such as Samar Badawi. Saudi Arabia has supported rebels in Syria who are losing a war against President Bashar Assad and its military become bogged down by the bloody and costly war it is waging in neighboring Yemen.

The Saudi government also banned new trade with Canada, although it was unclear if it would affect existing annual Saudi-Canadian trade of more than £3bn billion and a £10bn defense contract.

In a breathtaking series of tweets of its own, Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic ties, suspended future trade and air travel to Canada, and ordered thousands of its students to find somewhere else to study.

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.

"Both sides need to diplomatically resolve this together".

"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. Much of that was tanks, armoured personnel carriers and motor vehicles.

McTeague said the risk of Saudi Arabia causing gas prices to rise is minimal - even locally in New Brunswick - given the "very robust market" globally for crude and Irving Oil's allocation to the USA northeast.

"This particular case regarding Canada, we have raised that with the government of Saudi Arabia", Ms. Nauert added, asserting that the United States "has respect for global recognized freedoms and also individual liberty". "They are the best interlocutor for Canada in the region", he said.

The dispute with Canada is part of a larger pushback against external criticism, analysts say. In 2015, Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador to Sweden and stopped issuing work visas for Swedes after the Scandinavian country's foreign minister described the Badawi court decision as "medieval" and the kingdom's ruling Al Saud family as presiding over a "dictatorship". Canadian exports to Saudi Arabia totalled about $1.12 billion in 2017, or 0.2 percent of the total value of Canadian exports.

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