Riyadh: 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.
After statements made by the Canadian ambassador regarding the detaining of activists in Saudi Arabia, the Kingdom expelled him on Sunday and blocked imports of Canadian grain and ended state-backed educational and medical programmes in Canada.
Saudi Arabia has a "firm and long-standing policy" that petroleum supplies are not influenced by political considerations, Khalid al-Falih, Saudi Minister of Energy, 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 Centre 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 deleted the post without providing an explanation. CIC did not respond to a request for comment.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau later appeared to extend an olive branch, saying he would keep pressing Saudi Arabia on civil liberties but also saying the Gulf Arab state had made some progress on human rights.
"Diplomatic talks continue... we don't want to have poor relations with Saudi Arabia. It is a country that has great significance in the world, that is making progress in the area of human rights," Trudeau said.