OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his government wants to improve its relationship with Saudi Arabia, but will not sacrifice Canada’s position on human rights.
It has been more than a week since the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia suspended diplomatic relations with Canada and expelled the Canadian ambassador after a series of tweets from the Canadian government criticizing the arrest of some social activists there.
Trudeau, who is visiting Prince Edward Island today, says Canada continues to engage with Saudi Arabia diplomatically while holding firm on its foreign policy to make its positions known publicly and privately.
Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland has not spoken to her counterpart in Saudi Arabia since Tuesday, but her spokesman says there are conversations continuing at the official level as Canada tries to get a more clear picture of the full scale of Saudi Arabia’s retaliation.
Canada has been largely left to its own devices in the dispute; several countries like Pakistan, Russia, Egypt and Algeria have come to Saudi Arabia’s defence, but Canada’s allies have refused to get involved publicly.
Freeland did speak Saturday with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, but the U.S. has made no further public statements about the matter.
The Canadian Press