Saudi Arabia restores diplomatic relations with Canada

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Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry announced on Wednesday that it is restoring diplomatic relations with Canada.

The decision comes after a discussion between Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Bangkok in November last year.

The desire of both sides to restore relations was based on mutual respect and common interests, the ministry said.

The move seeks to restore relations to how they were before a diplomatic rift, in which Riyadh felt that Ottawa was interfering in the Kingdom’s internal affairs, damaged ties between the nations in 2018.

The Canadian foreign ministry said that Jean-Philippe Linteau would be the new ambassador to the Kingdom. Linteau was most recently the consul general of Canada in Dubai.

The Saudi foreign ministry statement did not mention who the Kingdom’s ambassador to Ottawa would be.

The spat led to Riyadh recalling its ambassador and expelling Ottawa’s envoy to the Kingdom. Additionally, Saudi Arabia froze new investment in Canada, halted a scholarship program to the North American country, and ended all flights to Canada by national carrier Saudia.

Former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said that he was pleased to see the countries restore diplomatic relations and congratulated Linteau on his appointment.

“The Kingdom is a longtime regional partner, one with whom we share many interests,” Harper tweeted.

Dennis Horak, who was the Canadian ambassador expelled from Riyadh in 2018, said that the Kingdom was an important regional player.

“I think having full diplomatic relations with them allows us to have our voices heard at senior levels, which in Saudi Arabia is what matters,” he told the CBC.

Horak also said that the language of the Global Affairs Canada tweet that sparked the diplomatic fallout was “harsher than I would have liked.”

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