Published: Mon, August 13, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Saudi Arabia Rules Out Mediation in Canada Row

Saudi Arabia Rules Out Mediation in Canada Row

Tensions have been high between the two countries since Monday, when Riyadh expelled Canada´s ambassador, recalled its own envoy and froze all new trade and investments.

On Thursday, Pakistan confirmed its full support to Saudi Arabia in its defense of its sovereignty and rejection of interference in the internal affairs of any country.

Riyadh also said it will relocate thousands of Saudi students studying in Canada to other countries, while state airline Saudia announced it was suspending flights to Toronto.

But while Saudi Arabia has been getting messages of support from regional allies and even rivals like Russia, Canada's Western allies - even those who had experienced similar Saudi outbursts in the past, such as Germany and Sweden - have chose to keep out of the latest dispute, at least publicly.

"Canada will always speak strongly and clearly in private and in public on questions of human rights", Trudeau said during an event Wednesday in Montreal.

"We will do so in a constructive and polite way", he continued, "but we will also remain firm on standing up for human rights everywhere around the world".

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Canada sparked fury in Riyadh last week when it called for the "immediate release" of rights campaigners, including award-winning women's rights activist Samar Badawi, the sister of jailed blogger Raif Badawi.

On August 6, Saudi Arabia told Saudi students studying in Canada that their scholarships for studying overseas are being suspended and to move their studies elsewhere, such as the United States or the United Kingdom.

"At present we do not have enough verified information to make additional comments".

Trudeau said Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland had a long conversation with her Saudi counterpart on Tuesday and Canada is engaging directly with the Saudi government in a bid to restore diplomatic ties between the two countries. "It's a situation that we have to watch - but there isn't a big economic challenge". "They need to resolve it together", US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert told a briefing on Wednesday.

Even the United States, Canada's closest ally and partner, issued a very neutral statement, saying "Canada and Saudi Arabia are both close allies of the United States".

Saudi Arabian medical residents and clinical fellows are finding themselves in the middle of the escalating diplomatic spat between the kingdom and Canada.

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