Canada seeks help on Saudi row

Trudeau stressed that they were keen to communicate directly with the Saudi government in order to re-establish diplomatic relations between the two countries, and pointed out that "the issue of Canada's apology for the criticism of human rights violations were not addressed during the talks".

Chrystia Freeland, Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs, speaks to the media following NAFTA renegotiations in Montreal, Quebec.

Last Friday, Freeland criticized the arrest of Samar Badawi, a Canadian citizen and woman's right activist on Twitter, calling for the release of her and her brother Raif, who is also imprisoned. It has since recalled thousands of Saudi students studying in Canada, moved to transfer any Saudi patients out of Canadian hospitals and barred the import of Canadian wheat.

The Saudi Press Agency said Thursday that the "diplomatic crisis" wouldn't affect the kingdom's petroleum supplies to Canada.

The Minister of Civil Service, Sulaiman Bin Abdullah Al-Hamdan, who also heads the Training and Scholarship Committee - an affiliate of his ministry, explained that the committee's secretariat has been working 24 hours a day to provide support for Saudi missions overseas to help the smooth transfer of those on scholarship in Canada to other countries and universities. Instead, he explained that "Canada will always speak strongly and clearly in private and public on questions of human rights".

APK-Inform said a recent decision by Saudi Arabia's main state wheat buying agency to avoid buying Canadian wheat and barley in its global tenders, due to a political dispute, could also enable Ukraine to sell more to Saudi.

"These are relationships that we expect our federal government to continually navigate", Moe said, "And [assure] we have the opportunity to provide those products logistically while we continue to work with these nations on issues such as human rights".

Canada has been disappointed that Western powers including the United States - a key ally of Saudi Arabia - did not publicly support Ottawa.

"Both sides need to diplomatically resolve this together. But we will continue to underline challenges when they exist there and everywhere in the world".

Earlier this year, Bloomberg News reported that Saudi Arabia was scaling back its dealings with some German companies amid a diplomatic spat with Berlin.

"Prince Mohammed thinks he has license from the confront Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, exploiting perceived tension between Washington and Ottawa over trade that emerged at the end of a Group of Seven summit in June", wrote Bloomberg's Nick Wadhams.

Vanessa Coleman