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Canada-Saudi Arabia ties worsening

Xinhua | Updated: 2018-08-07 09:20
In this file photo taken on June 13, 2018 Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland gestures as she speaks after receiving Foreign Policy's 2018 Diplomat of the Year award in Washington. [Photo/VCG]

OTTAWA - Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland on Monday said Canada isn't backing down from its position that leads to diplomatic dispute with Saudi Arabia.

"I will say Canada is very comfortable with our position. 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," she told a news conference in Vancouver a day after Saudi Arabia announced it will cease all new trade and investment deals with Canada and ordered the Canadian ambassador in Riyadh 24 hours to leave the country.

"Canadians expect our foreign policy to be driven by and to embody Canadian values, and that is how we intend to continue our foreign policy," she added.

Last Friday, the Canadian foreign ministry tweeted: "Canada is gravely concerned about additional arrests of civil society and women's rights activists in Saudi Arabia, including Samar Badawi. We urge the Saudi authorities to immediately release them and all other peaceful human rights activists."

In tweets Sunday night, Saudi Arabia's foreign ministry accused Canada of "overt and blatant interference" in the country's internal affairs.

"The Canadian position is a grave and unacceptable violation of the Kingdom's laws and procedures. In addition to violate the Kingdom's judiciary and a breach of the principle of sovereignty," the Saudi ministry tweeted.

The Saudi ministry said it is freezing all new trade and investments between the two countries. It also recalled its ambassador to Ottawa and has given Canadian Ambassador Denis Horak in Riyadh 24 hours to leave the country.

The Canadian Press on Monday reported that Saudi Arabia is planning to withdraw all Saudi students studying at Canadian universities, colleges and other schools and transfer them to other countries such as Britain and the United States. There are 15,000 Saudi students in Canada on government-funded scholarships, grants and in trainee programs.

Meanwhile, Airline Saudi said it will suspend flights to and from Toronto as of Aug 13.

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