Saudi says no room for mediation in Canada row

Pari Johnston of Universities Canada says international students contribute $15 billion to the Canadian economy

Saudi Arabia responded by reducing the level of diplomatic relations and stopping cooperation with Ottawa in several fields, most notably trade, education and medicine.

The dispute began after a tweet by the Canadian foreign ministry on Friday, in which it expressed "concerns" over the arrests of civil and women's rights activists in the Kingdom and called for their immediate release.

The Financial Times recently reported that the Saudi central bank and state pension funds had instructed their overseas asset managers to dispose of their Canadian equities, bonds and cash holdings "no matter the cost".

The displaced Canadian ambassador to Saudi Arabia, who was given 24 hours to leave the country, has a lengthy diplomatic career.

Some analysts perceive the move as both a power play for the kingdom's young leader and a demonstration put on for the benefit of countries with stronger ties to Saudi Arabia than Canada.

Canada plans to seek help from the UAE and Britain to defuse an escalating dispute with Saudi Arabia, sources said on Tuesday, but close ally USA made clear it would not get involved.

But the row threatens to slow Riyadh's foreign investment drive, a campaign already unsettled by a series of assertive foreign policy initiatives by the top oil exporter.

So far this year, Canada has exported $1.4 billion in merchandise goods to Saudi Arabia and imported $2 billion, according to Statistics Canada data.

In the days following the kingdom has continued to announce measures against Canada, including urgent plans to remove tens of thousands of Saudi students and an unspecified number of medical patients from Canada.

All Saudi Arabian students now studying in Canada will be transferred to other countries.

The dispute looks set to damage what is a modest bilateral trade relationship worth almost $4 billion a year. The state-run SPA news agency said Riyadh had stopped sending patients to Canadian hospitals and "is coordinating for the transfer of all Saudi patients from Canadian hospitals. according to directives by the leadership". Saudi Arabia has invested about $6 billion in Canadian businesses since 2006, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

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