Saudi says no room for mediation in Canada row

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The dispute ostensibly arose because of a tweet issued by Canada's Global Affairs Ministry decrying the arrest and detention of two female bloggers and activists, and urging Saudi authorities to immediately free the two women - one of whom was Samar Badawi, sister of jailed blogger Raif Badawi - as well as "all peaceful human rights activists".

She had wrote on Twitter that she was "very alarmed" over the arrests of the activists in Saudi Arabia, and on Friday, Canada's foreign ministry called for their "immediate release". Earlier this week, Saudi Arabia froze new trade and investment with Canada and gave the Canadian ambassador 24 hours to leave the kingdom.

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

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Saudi Arabia called that "unfortunate, reprehensible, and unacceptable in relations between states".

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

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Adel al-Jubeir, Saudi Arabia's foreign minister, said the kingdom was still "considering additional measures" against Canada.

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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.

"The matter is not about human rights; it is a matter of national security", the minister said.

She said: "We believe that Saudi Arabia, which has taken the path of massive social and economic transformations, has a full sovereign right to determine how to move forward in this important area". 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".

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"I will say Canada is very comfortable with our position", she told reporters. Canadian exports to Saudi Arabia were about $1.12 billion in 2017, or 0.2 percent of the total value of Canadian exports.

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