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Saudi Arabia's government said on Sunday that it would "put on hold all new business and investment with Canada" after a Global Affairs Canada tweet expressed concerns about the arrests of women's rights activists in the kingdom.

On Monday, Saudi foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir again criticised Canada's calls to free arrested civil society activists as a position built on "misleading" information.

Saudi Arabia has frozen all trade, expelled Canada's ambassador and ordered its citizens studying in Canada to leave.

"We are going to look at how we can ensure that we're competitive broadly. we have very strong trading relationships around the world".

"We're always going to speak up for woman's rights and that's not going to change", she said, adding that it wasn't the first time Canada has spoken out about human rights in Saudi Arabia", she said. Despite those ideals, however, the country has continued to take aggressive actions against some neighbours, and concerns about domestic human rights practices persist.

Canada will ask the United Kingdom and UAE to help cool tensions between itself and Saudi Arabia, after a diplomatic dispute broke out between the two countries this week. "And of course, Irving sells most of its product into the United States, not Canada", he said.

Canada and Saudi Arabia began sparring last week when a Canadian official spoke out against the recent arrest of a Saudi human rights activist.

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"The normal diplomatic route would have been to call the ambassador in and to let him know your displeasure and then to try to move from there", MacKay, Canada's foreign affairs minister from 2006 to 2007 and defence minister from 2007 to 2013, said in an interview with BNN.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas also said on Monday that he rejects Canadian interference in "internal Saudi affairs". Her former husband, Waleed Abu al-Khair, is now serving a 15-year prison sentence for his human rights work and her brother, the famed activist and blogger - Raif Badawi - has been sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for setting a website for public discourse.

The European Commission also struck a neutral tone in its response, saying it is seeking clarification about the arrest of activists, but avoided being drawn into the dispute between Riyadh and Canada. "We can't do it for them, they need to resolve it together", US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.

"I think the students are in shock right now.they haven't really understood what will happen and what their next steps are", she added.

On the diplomatic spat, Kocijancic said "we don't comment on bilateral relations".

York University, meanwhile, said 115 Saudi students are now enrolled at the Toronto university and that it is also awaiting further information.

But Prince Mohammed has also made it clear he won't brook outside criticism of key decisions-a stance that analysts say could threaten capital flows that Saudi Arabia needs for its overhaul.


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