Manama: Canada’s Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland is seeking to hold a meeting with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir on the side-lines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, CBC News, a division of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, reported on Tuesday.
Freeland hopes the meeting will help mend fences between the two countries after an explosive dispute during the summer.
If such a meeting can be arranged, it could well occur in the latter half of the week, CBC News said.
Saudi Arabia in August said it was freezing all new trade and investment relations with Canada and declared the Canadian ambassador to Riyadh persona non grata, giving him 24 hours to leave the kingdom.
The decisions were in response to Canada’s call for the release of Samar Badawi, an anti-government activist, a move seen in Riyadh as “blatant and unacceptable interference” in its domestic affairs.
Riyadh also recalled its ambassador to Canada for consultations and stressed it retained its right to take further action, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
“The negative and surprising statement by Canada lacked credibility and were not based on genuine information or facts,” the ministry said.
“The individuals mentioned in the statement were lawfully detained by the Public Prosecution for committing crimes punishable by law as per the legal procedures that also guaranteed the detainees’ rights and provided them with due process during the investigation and trial.
“The Canadian statement is a blatant interference in the Kingdom’s domestic affairs and violated basic international norms and all protocols between states. It is also a major and unacceptable affront to the Kingdom’s laws and judicial process, as well as a violation of the Kingdom’s sovereignty.
“Throughout its long history, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has never accepted, and will never tolerate, any interference in its domestic affairs or any dictation from any country. The Kingdom views the Canadian position as an affront to the Kingdom that requires a firm stance to prevent anyone from attempting to undermine the sovereignty of Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia banned Saudia flights to and from Toronto and pulled out its students and patients from Canada and relocating them to other countries
Initial efforts to mediate between the two countries failed to make any incremental changes.
“Canada knows what it needs to do,” Al Jubeir said. “Canada started this, and it’s up to Canada to find a way out of it.”
A small reprieve allowed around 1,000 medical students and interns not to leave Canada by August 31 as initially ordered, but thousands of non-medical students had to interrupt their college studies.
Several countries sided with Saudi Arabia, and Russia warned that it rejected attempts to politicise human rights issues and to interfere in the internal affairs of other states.
Canada’s former ambassador in Riyadh David Chatterson said that Ottawa should have been more professional and more respectful in its approach with Saudi Arabia.