Saudi Arabia pulls scholarships for students in Canada amid diplomatic tensions

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The Saudi government on Sunday recalled its ambassador to Ottawa, barred Canada's ambassador to Riyadh and placed a ban on new trade, denouncing Canada for urging the release of rights activists.

However, foreign ministry spokeswoman Marie-Pier Baril stressed that Canada would "always stand up for the protection of human rights. including women's rights, and freedom of expression around the world".

Alex Wong/Getty ImagesPolitical activist Samar Badawi was presented with an International Women of Courage Award by former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former first lady Michelle Obama in 2012.

Analysts say the dispute between Riyadh and Ottawa shows Saudi Arabia won't accept any outside criticism and will continue flexing its muscles overseas, especially as the kingdom enjoys a closer relationship with President Donald Trump.

Riyadh accuses Ottawa of meddling Riyadh accused Ottawa on Tuesday of interfering in its internal affairs.

The agency tweeted that it was "gravely concerned" about certain detentions in the Kingdom, specifically that of Samar Badawi, the sister of a blogger jailed by Saudi authorities.

He said the Canadian investments in Saudi Arabia are still ongoing, but it's looking implementing additional measures against Ottawa.

The accounts, which are followed by a number of Saudi diplomatic figures, are verified and largely share government announcements and pro-Riyadh messages.

"Saudi Arabia is shooting itself in the foot".

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Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland issued a statement later in the day refusing to walk back Canada's stance.

"Canada stands together with the Badawi family in this hard time, and we continue to strongly call for the release of both Raif and Samar Badawi", Freeland tweeted. Her brother's wife, Ensaf Haidar, lives in Canada and recently became a Canadian citizen. The Saudi government has said that it will cut scholarships for thousands of its students to study in Canada and national airline Saudia announced that it will suspend flights to Toronto beginning on August 13.

Saudi Arabia's move to freeze new trade deals could threaten Canada's $15-billion arms deal that includes providing armoured vehicles to the country, but Freeland called it "premature" to comment on the status of the deal, or the economic consequences of the move.

"The Saudi students - and their tuition - will be placed in study programs in other countries with similar education systems, such as the United Kingdom or the United States", according to the official.

Saudi Arabia gave Canada's ambassador in Riyadh, Dennis Horak, 24 hours on Monday to leave the country, declaring him persona non grata. It is unclear how many people this will affect, however, the Vancouver Sun said in 2015 about 5,000 news students arrive from Saudi Arabia each year.

"We want to continue to talk about the fact that women and men should have equality in this country and other countries", she said.

Armored tanks and personnel carriers have been Canada's biggest recent export to the kingdom.

"In terms of Canada's position going forward, we stand absolutely - with great assuredness - stand by what we have said". "It's up for the government of Saudi Arabia and the Canadians to work this out", she said on Tuesday.