Russia: Saudi Arabia has right to reject Canada's interference

There were 327 Saudi students at Mc Gill University last year.					Marie France Coallier  Montreal Gazette

There were 327 Saudi students at Mc Gill University last year. Marie France Coallier Montreal Gazette

The decision to freeze new trade agreements could threaten Canada's $15-billion arms deal that includes providing armoured vehicles to the kingdom, but Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said it was "premature" to comment on its status.

Jubeir added that the kingdom was still "considering additional measures" against Canada.

Canada sold 66,000 tonnes of wheat to Saudi Arabia last year, and slightly more the year before that, Statistics Canada data shows. The state-run SPA news agency said Riyadh had stopped sending patients to Canadian hospitals and "is coordinating for the transfer of all Saudi patients from Canadian hospitals. according to directives by the leadership".

Some analysts perceive the move as both a power play for the kingdom's young leader and a demonstration put on for the benefit of countries with stronger ties to Saudi Arabia than Canada.

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The currency dropped as much as 0.5 per cent to $1.3120 per US dollar after the Financial Times reported that the Saudi Arabia central bank and state pension funds have instructed their overseas asset managers to dispose of Canadian assets starting Tuesday.

Investigations against them are continuing and charges against them will be made public once cases reach the courts.

"The matter is not about human rights, it is a matter of national security", Jubeir said, referring to the row with Canada.

All Saudi Arabian students now studying in Canada will be transferred to other countries.

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Diplomatic channels and trade negotiations were suspended last week, and some flights from Saudi Arabia to Canada halted.

A source at a Saudi bank told Reuters the bank was contacted by the central bank on Wednesday afternoon asking for information about all their Canadian exposure - investments in Canada and foreign exchange positions.

Russian Federation voiced support for Saudi Arabia in its worsening row with Canada, telling Ottawa it was unacceptable to lecture the kingdom on human rights.

The Kingdom has recalled its ambassador, while at the same time expelling Canada's top diplomat in the country.

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"It's up for the government of Saudi Arabia and the Canadians to work this out", said Heather Nauert, a spokesperson for the state department, on Tuesday.

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