Canada defiant after Saudi Arabia freezes new trade over human rights call

Canada defiant after Saudi Arabia freezes new trade over human rights call

Saudi Arabia's national carrier Saudia has suspended flights to and fro Toronto as a diplomatic row between the Middle Eastern kingdom and Canada continued.

The Islamic Kingdom made the decision in retaliation to a Global Affairs Canada's tweet that expressed concerns about the arrests of civil society and women's rights activists in the country, such as Samar Badawi.

"Canada and Saudi Arabia are both close partners of the United States".

On Monday, Saudi's foreign ministry recalled its ambassador to Canada for consultations and declared the Canadian ambassador persona non grata, giving him 24 hours to leave.

The Saudi Foreign Ministry took exception to the use of the term "immediately release", calling it "unfortunate, reprehensible, and unacceptable in relations between states".

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and first lady Michelle Obama present the 2012 International Women of Courage Award to Samar Badawi of Saudi Arabia, on the 101st Anniversary of International Women's Day, Thursday, March 8, 2012, at the State Department in Washington.

The government also froze all new trade with Canada, and ordered approximately 16,000 Saudi students studying overseas in Canada to return home or complete their study in other countries.

The image reminded many social media users of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, in which planes were deliberately flown into the World Trade Center towers in NY and the Pentagon.

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Many Saudis went onto suggest that Canada should mind its own business in handling their local crisis, or help the indigenous women of Canada instead of interfering in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia considers Canada's comments an interference in its affairs that require what it calls a "sharp response".

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland stood by Canada's position on Monday, saying Canadians expect their government's foreign policy to be guided by their values.

It says there were 327 students from Saudi Arabia at McGill during the 2017-2018 academic year.

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.

Media captionSaudi Arabia's permanent representative to the United Nations confirmed the change in policy What has the relationship between Saudi Arabia and Canada been like in the past?

Garry Keller, who was chief of staff to ex-Conservative Foreign Minister John Baird, said the government needed to look at how it could help businesses that might be affected.

"It would be a shame for those students if they are deprived of the opportunity to study here", Freeland told reporters.

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