Saudi Arabia says there is no room for mediation in the kingdom’s escalating diplomatic dispute with Canada, days after Riyadh abruptly cut ties with Ottawa over its criticism of the Saudi crackdown on dissent.
Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told a news conference in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, that Ottawa knew what it needed to do to “fix its big mistake.”
“There is nothing to mediate. A mistake has been made and a mistake should be corrected,” the Saudi minister said.
Jubeir added that the kingdom was still “considering additional measures” against Canada.
Saudi Arabia on Sunday expelled Canada’s ambassador in retaliation for Ottawa’s call to free detained Saudi civil society activists.
Riyadh also froze new trade with Ottawa and made plans to relocate thousands of Saudi students and patients in Canada to other countries. 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.”
Responding to a question about the reason for the arrest of the activists, Jubeir repeated earlier allegations that they had been in touch with foreign entities. The top Saudi diplomat, however, said charges against them would be made public once their cases reach the courts.
The Financial Times recently reported that the Saudi central bank and state pension funds had instructed their overseas asset managers to dispose of their Canadian equities, bonds and cash holdings “no matter the cost.”
European traders said Saudi Arabia’s main state wheat buying agency, the Saudi Grains Organization (SAGO), has told grains exporters it will no longer accept Canadian-origin grains in its international purchase tenders.
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to hold a news conference in Montreal.
Since rising to power in 2015, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has courted Western allies by offering to buy billions of dollars worth of arms. Hundreds of billions of dollars of investments were discussed during his trips to the United States and Europe.
Bin Salman is the second most senior member of the Saudi regime, which has one of the worst human rights records in the world. Torture, arbitrary detention, and other appalling abuses by him are widely documented.