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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 21 August 2018

Al Jubeir: No room for mediation with Canada

The Saudi foreign minister said that the onus is on Canada to fix the diplomatic dispute

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir gives a press conference in the capital Riyadh. Nasser al-Harbi / AFP
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir gives a press conference in the capital Riyadh. Nasser al-Harbi / AFP

There would be no negotiation with Canada until it backtracks over comments criticising Saudi Arabia for detaining activists, the kingdom’s foreign minister said at a press conference Tuesday.

Canada has called on the UK and UAE to help mediate the issue with Saudi Arabia, Reuters news agency reported on Tuesday.

“There is no need for mediation, a mistake was made and it should be corrected, meditation happens when two sides have demands, but this is clear,” Adel Al Jubeir said in reference to Canada.

He added that “if Canada made a mistake, it’s on Canada to fix it”.

Mr Al Jubeir’s comments came just days after Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador from Canada over Ottawa’s statement demanding the kingdom “immediately release” detainees. Riyadh criticised the comments as an intervention into the kingdom’s internal affairs.

“Canada made a mistake, and the onus is on them to remedy, we don’t interfere in Canada, and we don’t get involved in their domestic policies. They did with ours, and it’s on them to fix it,” he said.

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland criticised the kingdom for the arrests of a women’s rights activists.

Saudi Arabia has said the detentions were unrelated to the individuals work and related to separate crimes.

Mr Al Jubeir said that Canada was that unaware of the other charges against those arrested and that the statements were “unacceptable” in regard to international norms.

“The issue has nothing to do with women’s rights, but they were involved with foreign elements in threatening people, and that it was leaking information about the kingdom to others. Some of those who were found to be not guilty were considered innocent, others were not,” he said.

Saudi Arabia is currently considering other measures to take against Canada amid a crisis between the two countries.

Mr Al Jubeir's comments came as the Financial Times and other media reported that the kingdom was escalating its response by selling assets it held in Canada. The Saudi central bank and state pension funds told asset managers to sell Canadian equities, bonds and other holdings.

Riyadh has recalled 12,000 students from Canada and all medical tourists in the country, saying that every measure will be taken to relocate them accordingly. Saudi Arabian Airlines announced that it was halting flights and refunding cancelled tickets.

Furthermore, the country freezing any new investments in Canada but said that existing projects could continue undisturbed.

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Read more:

Saudi suspends flights to Canada before Hajj

Saudi Arabia expels Canada envoy: full statement from Riyadh

Saudi Airlines suspends flights to Canada after Riyadh expels ambassador

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Canada’s currency dropped nearly 0.54 per cent around noon Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Mr Al Jubeir clarified claims made by news agencies earlier this week regarding Saudi Arabia and Iran improving diplomatic ties, saying “there are no [Iranian] diplomats in Saudi Arabia”.

“The relationship between Iran has not changed. Iran interferes in our region, it tries to make it unstable, and therefore Iran’s actions are not condoned. Iran is receiving punishments and Saudi condones those measures. We do not accept Iran’s actions and its support for terrorism in the region,” he said.

Mr Al Jubeir said that Saudi Arabia takes every measure to make sure that every avenue is open for all Muslims during Hajj season.

“Saudi Arabia is clear, during Hajj, Iran is allowed … to help Iranian pilgrims. Because Saudi Arabia tries to welcome all Muslims to God’s house, Saudi Arabia has no problem with Iranians, we respect them. The problem is between Saudi Arabia as well as the entire world, and the Iran [government]," he said.

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