Pakistan backs Saudi Arabia in diplomatic tussle with Canada

Pakistan backs Saudi Arabia in diplomatic tussle with Canada

"We have always had a positive and constructive relationship with countries around the world while at the same time always making sure we're bringing up human rights concerns, because Canadians expect that, and indeed people around the world expect that leadership from Canada", Trudeau said.

Morneau said the Canadian economy is strong.

The reaction from the Saudi government came after Chrystia Freeland, Canada's foreign affairs minster, tweeted a call for them to release regime critics from prison. One media report said Saudi banks and pension funds were ordered to sell off their Canadian assets, although that report remains unconfirmed.

On Thursday, Pakistan confirmed its full support to Saudi Arabia in its defense of its sovereignty and rejection of interference in the internal affairs of any country. But in an apparent effort to safeguard its economic interests, Saudi energy minister Khalid al-Falih said the dispute will not affect state oil giant Aramco´s clients in Canada.

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

"We join Canada in urging Saudi Arabia to release women's rights activists Samar Badawi and Nassimaal Sada", said the statement signed by 22 non-governmental groups and individuals, including the Nobel Women's Initiatve, Oxfam, and Lawyers without Borders.

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He added that Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir and Freeland had spoken by phone on Tuesday and those conversations are expected to continue.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stood firm, saying: "Canada will always speak strongly and clearly in private and in public on questions of human rights ... at home and overseas, wherever we see the need". "They need to resolve it together", US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert told a briefing on Wednesday.

"Canada stands together with the Badawi family in this hard time, and we continue to strongly call for the release of both Raif and Samar Badawi", Freeland tweeted.

Freeland took some criticism for using Twitter to push Canada's foreign policy positions, but Trudeau defended the tactic, saying Canada would continue to use all the communications tools available to make its case.

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

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