Saudi Arabia to freeze new trade with Canada, recalls ambassador

Saudi Arabia to freeze new trade with Canada, recalls ambassador

Saudi Arabia to freeze new trade with Canada, recalls ambassador

The Kingdom will also freeze "all new business" with Canada.

The Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on Sunday, recalling its ambassador in Canada for consultation, and declared the Ambassador of Canada persona non-grata, giving him 24 hours to leave.

The move followed vigorous calls by Canada for the immediate release of human rights activists swept up in a new wave of detentions, AFP said.

"The [Kingdom of Saudi Arabia] reserves its right to take further action", the country's foreign ministry said in a statement posted in a series of tweets.

The Saudi ministry had been briefed that the Canadian foreign ministry and the Canadian embassy urged the Saudi authorities to "immediately release" the civil rights activists, the statement said.

The dispute appears centered around a tweet by Global Affairs Canada calling on the kingdom to "immediately release" women's rights activists recently detained by the kingdom.

The Saudi foreign ministry slammed the Canadian statement, signalling its growing irritation over Western criticism of the kingdom's poor human rights record.

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However, supporters of women's rights were arrested just weeks before the ban was lifted, signaling that only King Salman and his powerful son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, will decide the pace of change.

Saudi Arabia is one of Canada's biggest export markets in the Gulf region and more than 15,000 Saudi students attend Canadian schools and universities.

"Any further step from the Canadian side in that direction will be considered as acknowledgment of our right to interfere in the Canadian domestic affairs", the Saudis said. Ms. Badawi is one of at least 18 civil-rights activists arrested since May, four of whom have been temporarily released, activists say.

His wife and three children live in Quebec and became Canadian citizens last month.

"The Canadian position is an open and transparent interference in the internal affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and contrary to the most basic worldwide norms and all the charters governing relations between countries".

"The Saudi ministry of foreign affairs has expressed disbelief by this negative unfounded comment, which was not based in any accurate or true information".

"We are seriously concerned by these media reports and are seeking greater clarity on the recent statement from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia", said Marie-Pier Baril.

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