Saudi-Canada row leaves US in tight diplomatic spot

Washington (AFP) –


The sharp diplomatic row between Saudi Arabia and Canada has left Washington -- partners and allies of both -- in a bind, but the State Department on Tuesday nevertheless urged Riyadh to respect due process for detained activists.

Saudi Arabia has expelled Canada's ambassador, recalled its own envoy and cut off trade ties with Ottawa after the US neighbor denounced a crackdown on rights activists in the kingdom.

A State Department spokeswoman told AFP that Washington was aware of the situation, noting: "Canada and Saudi Arabia are both close partners of the United States."

She said that Washington has asked Riyadh for more information about the cases of several detained activists.

"The United States supports respect for internationally recognized freedoms and individual liberties including dissent and due process," said the spokeswoman, who asked not to be named.

"We continue to encourage the government of Saudi Arabia to ensure all are afforded due process and to provide information on the charges and case status of legal actions against activists."

Saudi Arabia notably was angry with Canada for demanding that Riyadh "immediately release" some of the detained activists.

It has suspended scholarships for Saudi students in Canada and plans to relocate them to other countries, and the state airline Saudia is suspending flights to Toronto.