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Saudi State Airline Saudia Suspends Flights to and from Toronto

The kingdom froze new trade and investment with Canada on Sunday after Ottawa urged Riyadh to free arrested rights activists. It also recalled its ambassador and gave the Canadian ambassador 24 hours to leave the country.

Reuters

Updated:August 7, 2018, 7:54 AM IST
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Saudi State Airline Saudia Suspends Flights to and from Toronto
File of Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman (Getty Images)
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Dubai: Saudi state airline Saudia said in a post on its official Twitter account that it was suspending flights to and from Toronto, the latest in a series of measures the kingdom announced on Monday in its diplomatic row with Canada.

The kingdom froze new trade and investment with Canada on Sunday after Ottawa urged Riyadh to free arrested rights activists. It also recalled its ambassador and gave the Canadian ambassador 24 hours to leave the country.

"The Canadian position is an overt and blatant interference in the internal affairs of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia," the Saudi foreign ministry tweeted.

The ministry also announced, "the freezing of all new trade and investment transactions with Canada while retaining its right to take further action".

Canada last week said it was "gravely concerned" over a new wave of arrests of women and human rights campaigners in the kingdom, including award-winning gender rights activist Samar Badawi.

"We urge the Saudi authorities to immediately release them and all other peaceful #humanrights activists," the foreign ministry tweeted on Friday.

The latest arrests come weeks after more than a dozen women's right campaigners were detained and accused of undermining national security and collaborating with enemies of the state. Some have since been released.

The Saudi foreign ministry slammed the Canadian statement, signalling its growing irritation over Western criticism of the kingdom's poor human rights record.

"Using the phrase 'immediately release' in the Canadian statement is very unfortunate, reprehensible, and unacceptable in relations between states," the ministry tweeted.

Observers are of the opinion that Riyadh's expulsion of the Canadian ambassador was meant to send a strong message to other critical Western governments.

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| Edited by: Ahona Sengupta
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