State Department On Saudi Arabia-Canada Spat: We’re Staying Out

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State Department On Saudi Arabia-Canada Spat: We're Staying OutThe Trump administration waited nearly 24 hours to comment after Saudi Arabia expelled the Canadian ambassador over criticism of its human rights record.WASHINGTON ― The State Department has made its first comments on the dispute between Saudi Arabia and Canada, signaling that the U.S. will not take sides.

“We are aware of Government of Saudi Arabia’s statement recalling the Saudi ambassador to Canada and expelling Canada’s ambassador,” a State Department official told HuffPost in an email Monday afternoon. “Canada and Saudi Arabia are both close allies of the United States. I refer you to the Canadian and Saudi Ministries of Foreign Affairs for further information.”

Saudi Arabia is not, in fact, a treaty ally of the U.S. ― though Canada, a member of NATO, is.

The spat began after Canada called on the Saudis last week to release two recently arrested human rights activists. On Sunday, Riyadh called the move a violation of its sovereignty and announced punitive measures, including expelling the Canadian ambassador.

Asked about the U.S. position on the activists, the State Department official said America will “encourage” the Saudis to uphold international standards on human rights.

“The United States supports respect for internationally recognized freedoms and individual liberties including dissent and due process,” the official wrote. “We have asked the Government of Saudi Arabia for additional information on the detention of several activists. We continue to encourage the Government of Saudi Arabia to respect due process and to publicize information on the status of legal cases. We address these broad concerns in our annual Human Rights Report.”

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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