Saudi Arabia withdrawing students from Canada


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

The United Kingdom was similarly muted in its response, with a foreign office spokeswoman saying: "Canada and Saudi Arabia are both close partners of the UK, and we urge restraint during the current situation", a foreign office spokeswoman said.

The Saudi sell-off of Canadian assets began on Tuesday, the Financial Times reported - the same day that market watchers reported a sell-off of Canadian assets from an unknown worldwide dealer.

Canada has indicated it will not back down, despite the risk of imperilling business deals including a $15 billion (13 billion euros) agreement to sell Riyadh light armoured vehicles.

The Saudi government was also putting together an "urgent plan" to transfer students and interns already in Canada to US, UK, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore, it said.

"We've been pretty clear in our dealings around the world and specifically in Saudi Arabia that we know that it's important that we bring Canadian values around the world".

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Canadian stocks were flat on Wednesday, with the S&P TSX trading just slightly below Tuesday's close, at 16,282.92, in line with USA markets. In a statement on August 5, the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced it would expel the Canadian Ambassador and freeze all new trade and investments because of Canada's "interference in the Kingdom's domestic affairs".

The clash between the two countries began last Thursday when the Canadian government posted a tweet expressing concern over Riyadh's arrest of two women's rights activists.

Since then, the Saudi kingdom has pursued a scorched-earth policy towards anything related to Canada.

The Canadian currency dropped as much as 0.5 per cent to 76.21 USA cents after the Financial Times reported that the Saudi Arabia central bank and state pension funds have instructed their overseas asset managers to dispose of Canadian assets starting Tuesday.

The federal Liberal government has stood its ground amid the Saudi moves.