Canada plans to seek help from the United Arab Emirates and Britain to defuse an escalating dispute with Saudi Arabia, sources said on Tuesday, but close ally the United States made clear it would not get involved.
The Saudi government on Sunday recalled its ambassador to Ottawa, barred Canada’s envoy from returning and placed a ban on new trade, denouncing Canada for statements about “civil rights activists”. Riyadh accused Ottawa on Tuesday of interfering in its internal affairs.
One well-placed source said the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau planned to reach out to the United Arab Emirates.
“The key is to work with allies and friends in the region to cool things down, which can happen quickly,” said the source, who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the situation.
Another source said Canada would also seek help from Britain. The British government on Tuesday urged the two nations to show restraint.
The United States, traditionally one of Canada’s most important friends, stayed on the sidelines. US President Donald Trump - who criticized Trudeau after a Group of Seven summit in June - has forged tighter ties with Riyadh.
The office of Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland did not respond to requests for comment.
The dispute is set to damage what is a modest bilateral trade relationship worth nearly $4 billion a year.
Canada says it does not know what will happen to a $13 billion defense contract to sell Canadian-made General Dynamics Corp armored vehicles to Saudi Arabia.
European traders said the main Saudi wheat-buying agency had told grains exporters it will no longer accept Canadian-origin wheat and barley.
Saudi Arabia has also ordered roughly 15,000 Saudis studying in Canada to leave.
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