US, EU seek details of Saudi arrests but dodge Canada spat

Saudi Press Agency

"And of course, Irving sells most of its product into the United States, not Canada", he said.

Saudi Arabia's government said on Sunday that it would "put on hold all new business and investment with Canada" after a Global Affairs Canada tweet expressed concerns about the arrests of women's rights activists in the kingdom.

If the Saudi government's threat includes oil market transactions with private-sector companies in Canada, the effects would be damaging for the country's refining sector, ARC Energy Research Institute executive director Peter Tertzakian said. "Canada and all other nations need to know that they can't claim to be more concerned than the kingdom over its own citizens". Jasser bin Sulaiman Al Harbash, a deputy minister of education, said in an interview on Saudi Arabia's state-run television that the ministry "will be able to accommodate this number of students in excellent countries such as the U.S., U.K., Australia and New Zealand", according to the CNN report. "The United States has respect for internationally recognized freedoms and also individual liberty - that certainly hasn't changed".

"We continue to encourage the government of Saudi Arabia to ensure all are afforded due process and to provide information on the charges and case status of legal actions against activists".

"We are in a world where 100,000 barrels per day is significant", Tertzakian said, adding that oil markets are now tight and only a few producing countries - including Saudi Arabia - have spare capacity. "They're friends, they're partners, as is Canada as well".

Saudi Arabia notably was angry with Canada for demanding that Riyadh "immediately release" some of the detained activists.

"Very alarmed to learn that Samar Badawi, Raif Badawi's sister, has been imprisoned in Saudi Arabia", the tweet said.

Reid said there are several factors playing in the agreement's favour: the Saudis would have to pay penalties if they walk away from the deal, a pullout could hurt the country's reputation with other worldwide trading partners and, perhaps most importantly, Riyadh wants the model of armoured vehicle that's produced in London.

Questioned in Brussels about the tensions, European Commission spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said that "we have been seeking clarification from Saudi authorities" over a number of arrests since May.

On the diplomatic spat, Kocijancic said "we don't comment on bilateral relations".

"The world can not continue to look the other way as this relentless persecution of human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia continues". She said "we are in favour of a dialogue".

Also as part of the worldwide diplomatic imbroglio, Saudi Arabia expelled the Canadian ambassador on Sunday and declared a halt to all new business and investment transactions with Canada, accusing Canada of meddling.

Bahrain said it supports the measures by Saudi Arabia in response to statements made by Canada's foreign affairs minister. Canada planned to seek help from United Arab Emirates and Britain, sources told Reuters.

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