Tags: saudi arabia | canada | human rights | diplomacy

Saudi Arabia Escalates Its Dispute With Canada

Saudi Arabia Escalates Its Dispute With Canada
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (AP)

By    |   Wednesday, 08 August 2018 09:32 PM

Saudi Arabia on Wednesday barred its citizens from getting medical treatment in Canada as a diplomatic dispute escalated over criticism of the Gulf state's human rights record.

Riyadh also announced it was coordinating the transfer of all Saudi patients from Canadian hospitals to medical facilities outside Canada.

It was unclear how many Saudi patients would be affected.

The move came two days after Saudi Arabia announced it was expelling the Canadian ambassador, halting trade and investment deals with Canada, and suspending flights there.

Saudi Arabia has also said Saudi citizens studying in Canada on government scholarships, including medical residents, would be moved to programs in other countries or back to Saudi Arabia, The Washington Post reported.

Since rising to power in 2015, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has courted Western allies to support his reform plans, offering billions of dollars of arms sales and promising to fight radicalism in the kingdom.

Hundreds of billions of dollars of investments were discussed during his trips to the United States and Europe.

But Canada expressed concern over the arrests of activists in Saudi Arabia, including women's rights campaigner Samar Badawi, and called for their release. Riyadh said that amounted to "a blatant interference in the kingdom's domestic affairs."

In punishing Canada, Saudi Arabia appeared to be warning other Western nations not to criticize the kingdom over its human rights record, the Post reported.

The diplomatic dispute between the two countries has left the United States – partner and ally of both – in a bind.

"Both sides need to diplomatically resolve this together. We can't do it for them," State Department Heather Nauert said, Al Jazeera reported.

Washington "raised" the case with Riyadh, she said, adding: "The United States has respect for internationally recognized freedoms and also individual liberties. That certainly has not changed."

Nauert suggested the Canadian government could have handled the issue better.

"Some of these issues we choose to discuss privately with our friends, with our partners, with our allies," Nauert said. "I can tell you, however, we have raised these issues, and I'll leave it at that."

Reuters contributed to this report.

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As a diplomatic dispute escalated Wednesday over criticism of the Gulf state's human rights record, Saudi Arabia barred its citizens from getting medical treatment in Canada.
saudi arabia, canada, human rights, diplomacy
353
2018-32-08
Wednesday, 08 August 2018 09:32 PM
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