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Russia rejects Canada’s ‘authoritative tone’ toward Saudi Arabia

DUBAI: Russia sided with Saudi Arabia in the ongoing diplomatic rift with Canada on Wednesday, issuing a statement accusing the latter of attempting to “politicize human rights issues.”

The statement said Russia rejected the “authoritative tone” of Canada toward Saudi Arabia, adding that the Kingdom had the full sovereign right to manage its own affairs.

“We consistently and firmly advocate compliance with universal human rights with due regard for the specific national customs and traditions that developed in a given country over a long period of time. We have always said that the politicization of human rights matters is unacceptable,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a statement posted on the ministry’s website.

She added Russia believed the Kingdom had entered a path toward large-scale socioeconomic reform.

And she said it “has the sovereign right to decide how it will proceed in this vital sphere.”

Zakharova added that Canada would have been better placed to provide “constructive advice and assistance rather than criticism.”

But she said: “At the same time, we hope that Saudi Arabia and Canada will find a civilized solution to their differences.”

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.

But in response the Saudi government on Sunday recalled its ambassador to Ottawa, barred Canada's ambassador in Riyadh and placed a ban on new trade, denouncing Canada for urging the release of rights activists. Riyadh accused Ottawa on Tuesday of interfering in its internal affairs.

Arab countries, including Bahrain, Palestine and the UAE, have lined up in support of Saudi Arabia after it took trade and diplomatic measures against Canada on Monday in response to the latter’s interference in the internal affairs of the Kingdom.
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