Saudi Arabia freezes new trade with Canada

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Saudi Arabia froze new trade and investment with Canada after Ottawa urged Riyadh to free arrested civil society activists, in the top oil exporter’s latest retort to Western criticism of its human rights record.

The Gulf Arab kingdom also recalled its ambassador and gave the Canadian ambassador 24 hours to leave the country, a Saudi foreign ministry statement said late on Sunday, adding it retained “its rights to take further action.”

The announcement carried on the official Saudi Press Agency caught diplomats in Riyadh off guard, a source with knowledge of the situation told Reuters, noting that both the Saudi and Canadian ambassadors were away on leave when it was made.

“The entire diplomatic community was surprised by the move,” the source said.

 

Zainab Sa’id