Canada expresses serious concern as Saudi Arabia expels Ambassador UPDATED
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Update Saudi Arabia’s state airline has suspended flights in and out of Toronto amid an intensifying diplomatic row with Canada. (The Independent – UK)

Al Jazeera reports that Saudi Arabia expelled Canada’s ambassador over alleged interference in the kingdom’s domestic affairs after Ottawa’s foreign ministry rebuked Riyadh for jailing human rights activists.

Canadian Ambassador Dennis Horak was given 24 hours to leave the country, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Monday.

Riyadh will also “stop training, scholarship and fellowship programmes” in Canada, state-run Al-Ekhbariya television reported.

It added that the Saudi government was also putting together an “urgent plan” to transfer students and interns already in Canada to other countries.

The announcement came days after Canada called for the immediate release of rights campaigners detained during a recent wave of arrests in Saudi Arabia, including relatives of naturalised Canadian citizens.

Saudi Arabia also suspended all new trade deals worth billions of dollars and recalled its envoy to Canada.

The ministry of foreign affairs said Canada’s actions were an “affront” that required a “sharp response”.

Canada said Monday it is “seriously concerned” after Saudi Arabia announced it is expelling Ottawa’s ambassador and recalling its own envoy in protest over “interference” in its internal affairs.

“We are seriously concerned by these media reports and are seeking greater clarity on the recent statement from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” said Marie-Pier Baril, a Canadian foreign ministry spokeswoman.

Canada will always stand up for the protection of human rights, very much including women’s rights, and freedom of expression around the world. Our government will never hesitate to promote these values and believes that this dialogue is critical to international diplomacy.”

Read more on Al Jazeera here. 

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