Saudi-Canada row leaves US in tight diplomatic spot

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"If you want to open up your country to the world, you don't start expelling ambassadors and freezing trade with countries such as Canada", said Joost Hiltermann, regional programme director for the International Crisis Group.

"We're a little bit surprised by this sudden decision", said Associate Vice-President Livia Castellanos with University of Regina's worldwide program.

The arrests last week brought criticism from the Canadian government.

His university has 77 undergraduate and graduate students from Saudi Arabia, both new and returning, for the 2018-2019 school year.

But that so-called ethics-based approach has its downsides.

The Islamic Kingdom made the decision in retaliation to a Global Affairs Canada's tweet that expressed concerns about the arrests of civil society and women's rights activists in the country, including Samar Badawi - the sister of jailed blogger Raif Badawi, who's wife and three children recently became Canadian citizens.

The agency cited Saudi Health Attache in the United States of America and Canada Dr Fahd bin Ibrahim al Tamimi. "And we stand with our government in this decision".

Tanks, armored vehicles and parts and motor vehicles accounted for about 45% of Canada's 2016 exports to the kingdom, while crude oil and copper ores comprised about 98% of imports, according to a government report.

Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said Monday she "looks forward" to hearing from Riyadh about the future of the deal.

Ms Badawi is known for challenging Saudi Arabia's male guardianship system.

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Earlier this year, the Philippines canceled a defense contract for 14 Canadian helicopters after Trudeau's government ordered a review of President Rodrigo Duterte's rights record.

Trade between Canada and Saudi Arabia exceeded $4-billion (€ 3.4 billion) a year ago, a significant portion of it came from a controversial multibillion-dollar deal to sell combat vehicles equipped with machine guns and cannons to the Saudis, according to The Globe and Mail.

"It's something that we do", Freeland said.

"Their visas, their passports, are they going to get it?" said Zia Khan.

The U.S. also said it continued to encourage the Saudi government to "ensure all are afforded due process".

While department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said US officials have raised human rights concerns with the Saudis in the past, she stressed that Riyadh and Ottawa "need to diplomatically resolve this together".

In the first comments by Washington since the dispute erupted, a U.S. State Department official said the United States had asked Riyadh for details on the detention of activists. "That certainly has not changed". "Saudi Arabia is a strong country and doesn't need Canada, Germany or even America", he told DW.

"Some of these issues we choose to discuss privately with our friends, with our partners, with our allies", Nauert said.

"I think the students are in shock right now.they haven't really understood what will happen and what their next steps are", she added.

Prince Mohammed has drawn criticism not just over human rights but also for pursuing a ruinous bombing campaign in neighbouring Yemen, which is in the grip of war and a humanitarian crisis.

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