Saudi Arabia freezes all trade investment in Canada

06 August, 2018, 10:42 | Author: Rachel Logan
  • Saudi Arabia freezes all trade investment in Canada - Saudi Press Agency

The kingdom recalled its ambassador to Ottawa and ordered the Canadian envoy to Riyadh to leave within 24 hours, according to a foreign ministry statement cited by the Saudi Press Agency.

The website also says Canada was "seeking to diversify its relations with the Saudi Kingdom" in 2016, as the two countries' bilateral relations are based on a shared interest of peace and security, including energy security, humanitarian affairs and counter-terrorism efforts in the Middle East. "Canada stands together with the Badawi family in this hard time, and we continue to strongly call for the release of both Raif and Samar Badawi".

In a series of tweets, Saudi Arabia's foreign ministry said in addition to freezing all new trade and investment transactions with Canada, it "reserves the right to take further action".

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

"We urge the Saudi authorities to immediately release them and all other peaceful human rights activists", Global Affairs Canada said on its Twitter feed.

Last Wednesday, Human Rights Watch said Saudi Arabia had arrested women's rights activists Samar Badawi and Nassima al-Sadah, the latest two to be swept up in a government crackdown on activists, clerics and journalists.

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The arrests followed a spate of detentions of women's rights activists in the run-up to the end of the ban on women driving in the kingdom in late June.

Omar Allam, a business consultant in Canada who advises companies looking to do business with Saudi Arabia, said the Saudis are angry at what they consider foreign interference in their domestic affairs.

"The Kingdom views the Canadian position as an affront to the Kingdom that requires a sharp response to prevent any party from attempting to meddle with Saudi sovereignty", the statement said.

On Thursday, Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said she was "very alarmed" by the news of Samar Badawi's arrest, the sister of imprisoned blogger Raif Badawi.

Raif Badawi's wife Ensaf Haidar lives in Canada and recently became a Canadian citizen.

"Canada stands together with the Badawi family in this hard time, and we continue to strongly call for the release of both Raif and Samar Badawi", she wrote on Twitter.

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