Saudi Arabia says 'nothing to mediate' in Canada dispute

Toronto's CN Tower and the skyline

Toronto's CN Tower and the skyline

The kingdom early Monday expelled Canada's envoy Dennis Horak giving him 24 hours to leave the country, and recalled its own envoy to Ottawa, while freezing or "put on hold all new business and investment transactions with Canada" what it slammed as "interference" in its internal affairs. The kingdom was still "considering additional measures" against Canada, said Jubeir, without elaborating.

Saudi Arabia is selling Canadian assets in an escalating row after Ottawa criticized the arrest of a female activist, the Financial Times reported on Wednesday, citing sources.

Canada sold 66,000 tonnes of wheat to Saudi Arabia last year, and slightly more the year before that, Statistics Canada data shows.

New trade has been frozen between the two countries, casting a shadow of uncertainty over the 2014 deal that sends light armoured vehicles to Saudi security forces. It also ended state-backed educational and medical programs in Canada, making plans to relocate tens of thousands of Saudi students and patients to other countries.

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Saudi Arabia has ordered all Canadian grain purchases to be stopped, adding it will no longer buy Canadian-origin grains.

The first seeds of dissension were sown by a tweet from Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland on Thursday which criticised Saudi's detainment of human right activists including Samar Badawi in Riyadh and called for their immediate release.

The statement said Russian Federation rejected the "authoritative tone" of Canada toward Saudi Arabia, adding that the Kingdom had the full sovereign right to manage its own affairs.

Saudi Arabia's national airline suspended flights to and from Toronto on Tuesday.

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