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    Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a meeting with President Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House, Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017, in Washington

    Trudeau Unapologetic as Saudi Arabia Accuses Canada of 'Blatant' Interference

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    The diplomatic and economic standoff between Canada and Saudi Arabia escalated after Riyadh ousted the Canadian ambassador and suspended trade and investment ties with the country in response to Ottawa’s calls for the release of civil society activists detained in the kingdom.

    Addressing the growing row between the two countries on Wednesday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offered no apology, instead reaffirming Ottawa’s stance on human rights in the kingdom.

    “Canada will always speak strongly and clearly in private and in public on questions of human rights. We do not wish to have poor relations with Saudi Arabia. Diplomatic talks continue,” he said.

    The prime minister further stressed that Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland “had a long conversation” with her Saudi counterpart on Tuesday in an attempt to resolve the current impasse.

    READ MORE: Saudi Retaliation Follows Long History of Canada ‘Making Them Look Bad’

    His speech came on the heels of statements by Saudi foreign minister Abdel al-Jubeir, who stressed that Canada continued interfering in Riyadh’s internal affairs and ruled out mediation in the dispute, warning of additional punitive measures.

    “The matter is not about human rights, it is a matter of national security. Saudi Arabia does not interfere in the affairs of Canada in any way. Therefore, Canada must correct its actions towards the Kingdom. […] There is nothing to mediate. A mistake has been made and a mistake should be corrected,” he said.

    Earlier this week, Saudi Arabia accused Canada of “overt and blatant interference” in its internal affairs after the latter called for the “immediate release” of human rights activists detained in the kingdom. In addition, the Foreign Ministry tweeted that another attempt to meddle in Saudi internal affairs would mean that Riyadh is also entitled to interfere in Canada’s affairs.

    In response to Ottawa’s statements, Riyadh declared the Canadian ambassador a persona-non-grata, giving him 24 hours to leave the kingdom, and froze fresh trade ties and investment transactions between the two countries. Riyadh has also announced its decision to suspend student exchange programs with Canada and move Saudi students studying in Canada elsewhere.

    Reacting to the Saudi actions, Freeland on Monday tweeted a statement to highlight that the Foreign Ministry was “deeply concerned” by the expulsion of the ambassador.

    The Saudi foreign minister also said Monday that Ottawa had "distorted" information, claiming that the rights of those detained had been ensured by Saudi Arabia's legal system.

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    Tags:
    row, investment, education, trade, human rights, interference, expulsion, diplomatic crisis, Justin Trudeau, Saudi Arabia, Canada
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