Saudi Arabia-Canada spat hits 16,000 students as the Kingdom suspends scholarships

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The U.S. State Department has urged Canada and Saudi Arabia to resolve their escalating feud.

The kingdom early Monday expelled Canada's envoy Dennis Horak giving him 24 hours to leave the country, and recalled its own envoy to Ottawa, while freezing or "put on hold all new business and investment transactions with Canada" what it slammed as "interference" in its internal affairs.

Thomas Juneau, an assistant professor at the University of Ottawa's Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, estimated the overall trade relationship between Canada and Saudi Arabia totals between $3 and $4 billion a year.

The kingdom has suspended educational exchanges with Canada and moved Saudi scholars to other countries.

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Saudi Arabia is now coordinating for the transfer of all Saudi patients from Canadian hospitals to other facilities outside of the country, according to a report from the Saudi Press Agency. 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". Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland, whose tweet sparked the hostility, said that "Canada will continue to advocate for human rights and for the courageous women and men who push for these fundamental rights around the world" after Saudi's response.

Talking about the case of the detainees whom Canada called "civil society activists", Jubeir said the detainees tried to get sensitive information.

Saudi Arabia's quick and severe response is worth noting. "Therefore, Canada must correct its actions towards the kingdom". We are going to continue to enunciate what we believe are the appropriate ways of dealing with citizens, " Finance Minister Bill Morneau said on Tuesday.

"I will say Canada is very comfortable with our position", she told reporters. Saudi Arabia's airline suspended flights to and from Canada, potentially complicating travel plans for Canada's Muslim population as the annual Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca approaches later in August. "We are always going to speak up for human rights, we're always going to speak up for women's rights, and that is not going to change".

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