Canada, Saudi Arabia to restore full diplomatic relations after 5 years of dispute

by ReutersCanada and Saudi Arabia have agreed to restore full diplomatic ties and appoint new ambassadors, the two countries said on Wednesday (local time), bringing to a close a 2018 dispute that damaged relations and trade.

The decision follows discussions between Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum summit in Bangkok last November, according to statements from Canada and Saudi Arabia. taken. ,

The statements said the decision stemmed from “the desire of both sides to restore diplomatic relations between the two countries on the basis of mutual respect and common interests”.

The 2018 row was preceded by the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi later that year, which was condemned by Canada and all Western countries. It began when the Canadian Embassy in Riyadh published a tweet in Arabic urging the immediate release of women’s rights activists held by Saudi Arabia.

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This prompted Riyadh to recall its ambassador and ban the envoy from returning and impose new trade restrictions.

“The punitive trade measures will be lifted,” said a Canadian government source familiar with the deal who was not authorized to speak on the record. It is unclear what impact the dispute had on business.

According to official data, Saudi Arabia was the largest export market for Canada in the region in 2021, when their total value was $2.2 billion ($1.65 billion). Imports were $2.4 billion. Almost all of Canada’s imports were oil and petrochemicals. Over 80 percent of exports to Saudi Arabia were transportation equipment.

“At the end of the day empty chairs don’t advance our interests, and they don’t advance things like human rights,” the source said.

The normalization comes as the Saudi prince, known as MBS, uses his place atop an energy giant in an oil-dependent world consumed by war in Ukraine to reposition Saudi Arabia as a regional power. : wants to install.

“Saudi Arabia is important within its region. It is an important player,” said Roland Paris, Trudeau’s former foreign policy adviser and professor of international affairs at the University of Ottawa. “It only makes sense to hold back ambassadors to keep the channels of communication open.”

Canada will appoint Jean-Philippe Leanteau as its new ambassador in Riyadh.

Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Jolie has said, “To find global solutions to global problems, we need to have dialogue with people with whom we don’t always agree on everything.”

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