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Canada PM does not back down on rights defense in Saudi spat

  • 8 August 2018
  • Author: Eric
  • Number of views: 806
Canada PM does not back down on rights defense in Saudi spat
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday refused to apologize for calling out Saudi Arabia on its human rights record, after Riyadh said it was considering further punitive measures against Ottawa over its criticisms of the kingdom.
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.
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.
The kingdom was angry at Ottawa for openly denouncing a crackdown on rights activists in Saudi Arabia.
But on Wednesday, Trudeau stood firm.
"Canada will always speak strongly and clearly in private and in public on questions of human rights," he said.
"We do not wish to have poor relations with Saudi Arabia," he added, saying Ottawa recognizes that Riyadh "has made progress when it comes to human rights."
Trudeau noted that his foreign minister, Chrystia Freeland, had "a long conversation" on Tuesday with her counterpart Adel al-Jubeir to try to resolve the dispute.
"Diplomatic talks continue," he said.
On Wednesday, Saudi state media said the kingdom has nevertheless also stopped all medical treatment programs in Canada and was working on transferring all Saudi patients there to other countries.
Further straining ties, the Saudi central bank has instructed its overseas asset managers to dispose of their Canadian equities, bonds and cash holdings "no matter the cost," the Financial Times reported. - AFP



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