No compromise on rights issues | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, August 10, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, August 10, 2018

No compromise on rights issues

Says Canada PM amid spat with Saudi Arabia

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday refused to apologize for calling out Saudi Arabia on its human rights record, after Riyadh said it was considering further punitive measures against Ottawa over its criticisms of the kingdom.

Tensions have been high between the two countries since Monday, when Riyadh expelled Canada's ambassador, recalled its own envoy and froze all new trade and investments.

Riyadh also said it will relocate thousands of Saudi students studying in Canada to other countries, while state airline Saudia announced it was suspending flights to Toronto.

The kingdom was angry at Ottawa for openly denouncing a crackdown on rights activists in Saudi Arabia.

But on Wednesday, Trudeau stood firm.

"Canada will always speak strongly and clearly in private and in public on questions of human rights," he said.

"We do not wish to have poor relations with Saudi Arabia," he added, saying Ottawa recognizes that Riyadh "has made progress when it comes to human rights."

Trudeau noted that his foreign minister, Chrystia Freeland, had "a long conversation" on Tuesday with her counterpart Adel al-Jubeir to try to resolve the dispute.

On Wednesday, Saudi state media said the kingdom has nevertheless also stopped all medical treatment programs in Canada and was working on transferring all Saudi patients there to other countries.

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