Saudi Arabia reassures Canada on oil supplies in row over jailed activists
Reuters: A row over human rights in Saudi Arabia will not have any impact on Saudi oil supplies to Canada, its energy minister said on Thursday, reassuring customers after Riyadh froze new trade with Canada and ruled out mediation efforts.
Saudi Arabia, infuriated by Canada’s demand last week that jailed activists in the kingdom be released immediately, expelled the Canadian ambassador on Sunday, blocked imports of Canadian grain and ended state-backed educational and medical programs in Canada.
The dispute has threatened to undermine Riyadh’s foreign investment drive, a campaign already unsettled by a series of assertive political and diplomatic initiatives by the top oil exporter.
Saudi Arabia has a “firm and long-standing policy” that petroleum supplies are not influenced by political considerations, Khalid al-Falih said in a statement.
“The current diplomatic crisis between Saudi Arabia and Canada will not, in any way, impact Saudi Aramco’s relations with its customers in Canada.”
The Financial Times reported on Wednesday that the Saudi central bank and state pension funds had instructed their overseas asset managers to sell their Canadian equities, bonds and cash holdings.
The Saudi government’s Center for International Communication (CIC) posted a tweet late on Wednesday saying “neither the government nor the Central Bank or the state pension fund has issued any instructions regarding the sale of Canadian assets”.
But it promptly deleted the post without providing an explanation. CIC did not respond to a request for comment.
Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir on Wednesday ruled out any mediation efforts and called on Ottawa to “fix its big mistake,” saying the kingdom was considering implementing more measures against Canada for interfering in Saudi Arabia’s domestic affairs, without elaborating.