Published: Mon, August 06, 2018
Worldwide | By Victor Meyer

Saudi Arabia expels Canadian ambassador, freezes new trade deals

Saudi Arabia expels Canadian ambassador, freezes new trade deals

Saudi Arabia said it considers the Canadian ambassador in Saudi Arabia as persona non grata and gave him a 24-hour notice to leave the kingdom.

Riyadh said Canada's statement about "civil society activists" was negative and unfair to the truth.

A Saudi Foreign Ministry statement early Monday also announced that it would freeze "all new business" between the kingdom and Canada.

In its long history, Saudi Arabia has not and will not accept intervention in its internal affairs or impose dictates on it from any country.

"The kingdom announces that it is recalling its Canada for consultation", it added.

Saudi authorities last week arrested two prominent women rights activists, Samar Badawi and Nassima al-Saadah, and held them incommunicado, Saudi human rights groups said.

"We urge the Saudi authorities to immediately release them and all other peaceful #humanrights activists", tweeted the Canadian embassy.

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"It is quite unfortunate to see the phrase "immediate release" in the Canadian statement, which is a reprehensible and unacceptable use of language between sovereign states".

Canada's government has so far made no public comments on Saudi Arabia's diplomatic measures. More than a dozen women's rights activists have been targeted since May.

The move came after the Canadian embassy in Riyadh said it was "gravely concerned" over a new wave of arrests of human rights campaigners in the kingdom, including award-winning gender rights activist Samar Badawi.

Most of those arrested campaigned for the right to drive and an end to the country's male guardianship system, which requires women to obtain the consent of a male relative for major decisions.

His wife and three children live in Quebec and became Canadian citizens last month. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia expresses its absolute and categorical rejection of the position of the Canadian Government.

"Canada is easier to cut ties with than the rest", Bessma Momani, a professor at Canada's University of Waterloo, told AFP.

Two-way merchandise trade between Canada and Saudi Arabia exceeded $4-billion previous year, a significant portion of it from a controversial multibillion-dollar deal to sell combat vehicles equipped with machine guns and cannons to the Saudis.

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