04:22 GMT01 March 2021
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    Saudi Arabia has stopped all medical treatment programs in Canada after the kingdom abruptly cut ties with Ottawa.

    Saudi Arabia has discontinued all medical treatment programs in Canada and is coordinating the transfer of all Saudi patients to hospitals outside Canada, the Saudi Press Agency reported citing Dr. Fahd bin Ibrahim Al Tamimi, Saudi Health Attaché in US and Canada.

    According to the Saudi Press Agency, the aim of the mission is to ensure the safety of patients and complete their treatment elsewhere.

    The move comes amid a Saudi-Canada diplomatic row, which has already led to Riyadh recalling its ambassador from Ottawa and declaring the Canadian envoy to the kingdom a persona non grata, as well as freezing all new trade and investment contacts with Canada and suspending all joint educational programs and moving students studying in the country elsewhere.

    Ottawa previously urged Riyadh to release a number of civil society and women's rights activists, detained in Saudi Arabia. Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said on Thursday that she was "deeply concerned" to learn that human rights activist Samar Badawi, the sister of imprisoned Saudi writer Raif Badawi had been jailed by Saudi authorities. Raif Badawi's wife and three children live in Canada.

    READ MORE: Verified Saudi Account Seemingly Threatens Canada With 9/11 Style Attack

    The Saudi foreign ministry responded to Freeland’s statement by abruptly cutting ties with Ottawa and accusing it of interfering in the country's domestic affairs.


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