Saudia to suspend Canadian flights

Saudi Arabia expelling Canadian ambassador and suspending new trade with Canada

"Both sides need to diplomatically solve this together".

"We're going to stand with the values that we know are important to Canadians and Saudi Arabia will take the decisions that they take", Morneau said.

Though Canada is an official USA ally through North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, the US also has deep financial and diplomatic ties with Saudi Arabia.

Plans to relocate 7,000 students and their families in Canada to other countries, primarily the United States and Britain, were already underway, education ministry official Jassem al-Harbash said.

Ottawa has long refused to deepen ties with the Saudi government over the country's track record on human rights.

Saudi state airline Saudia said it was suspending flights to and from Toronto, Canada's largest city.

The Saudis have also threatened to exclude Canadian companies from participation in the lucrative Vision 2030 programme, where the kingdom is spending hundreds of billions of dollars to modernise its economy.

Then, the Saudi government said it would freeze new trade with Canada.

According to official statistics, 8,076 Saudi scholarship students are studying in Canada, with doctors forming the biggest percentage.

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The Saudi Ministry of Media ordered the Twitter account of the Infographic KSA, @Infographic_KSA, that posted the photo shut down, apparently unamused by its invocation of the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center in NY.

"Any other attempt to interfere with our internal affairs from Canada, means that we are allowed to interfere in Canada's internal affairs", the ministry said.

One well placed source said the Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau - which stresses the importance of human rights - planned to reach out to the United Arab Emirates. A pro-Saudi government Twitter account shared a tweet of a digitally-altered photo of the skyline of Toronto with an image of a jet plane imposed that appeared to be headed into skyscrapers.

The rupture, which underscores a newly aggressive foreign policy led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, comes after Canada denounced a new crackdown on women and human rights campaigners in the kingdom.

"We want to continue to talk about the fact that women and men should have equality in this country and other countries", she said. The agency tweeted that it was "gravely concerned" about certain detentions in the Kingdom, specifically that of Samar Badawi, the sister of a blogger jailed by Saudi authorities. He won Europe's top human rights prize in 2015.

"Instead of pursuing human rights reform, the government of Saudi Arabia has chosen to lash out with punitive measures in the face of criticism", said Samah Hadid, Amnesty International's Middle East Director of Campaigns.

Ensaf Haidar, Raif Badawi's wife, who lives in Quebec with her three children, said Monday she was surprised when she heard about the two new arrests.

Ms Badawi was given the US International Women of Courage Award in 2012 and is known for challenging Saudi Arabia's male guardianship system.

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