Ottawa - Reuters
Canada to ask allies to help cool Saudi dispute

Canada plans to seek help from the United Arab Emirates and Britain to defuse an escalating dispute with Saudi Arabia, sources said on Tuesday, but close ally the United States made clear it would not get involved.
The Saudi government on Sunday recalled its ambassador to Ottawa, barred Canada’s envoy from returning and placed a ban on new trade. Riyadh accused Ottawa on Tuesday of interfering in its internal affairs.
One well placed source said the Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau planned to reach out to the United Arab Emirates.
“The key is to work with allies and friends in the region to cool things down, which can happen quickly,” said the source, who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the situation. Another source said Canada would also seek help from Britain.
The United States, traditionally one of Canada’s most important friends, stayed on the sidelines. U.S. President Donald Trump - who criticized Trudeau after a Group of Seven summit in June - has forged tighter ties with Riyadh.
“Both sides need to diplomatically resolve this together. We can’t do it for them; they need to resolve it together,” U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told a briefing.
The office of Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland did not respond to requests for comment.
The dispute looks set to damage what is a modest bilateral trade relationship worth nearly $4 billion a year. Canadian exports to Saudi Arabia totaled about $1.12 billion in 2017, or 0.2 percent of the total value of Canadian exports.
Canada says it does not know what will happen to a $13 billion defense contract to sell Canadian-made General Dynamics Corp armored vehicles to Saudi Arabia.
European traders said the main Saudi wheat-buying agency had told grains exporters it will no longer accept Canadian-origin wheat and barley.
Saudi Arabia has also ordered roughly 15,000 Saudis studying in Canada to leave.
Thomas Juneau, an assistant professor and Middle East expert at the University of Ottawa, said Saudi irritation at the way the General Dynamics contract was handled also helped explain Riyadh’s response.
The deal was agreed in 2014 by the Conservatives, who shared the Saudi desire for deeper relations, he said.

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