Saudi Arabia, Canada to restore diplomatic ties

Published May 25, 2023
This combo photo shows Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (left) and Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. — Reuters
This combo photo shows Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (left) and Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. — Reuters

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia and Canada will restore full diplomatic relations, the kingdom said on Wednesday, following a 2018 dispute over human rights that saw Riyadh expel Ottawa’s ambassador and freeze new trade.

The decision, also announced by Canada’s foreign ministry, came after talks last year between Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the sidelines of the summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum in Bangkok.

“It has been decided to restore the level of diplomatic relations with Canada to its previous state,” Saudi’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

In 2018, the Saudi government expelled Canada’s ambassador and recalled its own envoy to Ottawa, while freezing all new trade over vigorous calls for the release of activists jailed in the kingdom.

On Wednesday, Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said the two countries will “appoint new ambassadors” and a Canadian foreign ministry statement named Jean-Phillipe Linteau as Ottawa’s new envoy to the kingdom. Saudi Arabia made no mention of its pick for ambassador.

The latest announcement follows a frenetic stretch of high-stakes Saudi diplomacy triggered by the kingdom’s surprise Chinese-brokered rapprochement deal with Iran announced in March.

Since then, Saudi Arabia has restored bilateral ties with Syria and ramped up a push for peace in Yemen.

Saudi Arabia is also hosting representatives of Sudan’s two warring generals, and, with the US, brokered a seven-day humanitarian ceasefire that took effect on Monday.

Published in Dawn, May 25th, 2023

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