State Dept stays out of Canada-Saudi dispute: 'We can’t do it for them'

State Dept stays out of Canada-Saudi dispute: 'We can’t do it for them'
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The State Department on Monday declined to take sides in the escalating dispute between Canada and Saudi Arabia.

"Both sides need to diplomatically resolve this together," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said during a press briefing. "We can’t do it for them. They need to resolve it together." 

Meanwhile, Canada, a U.S. ally, is reportedly seeking assistance from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the U.K. to help smooth over the feud, according to Reuters. 


Though Canada is an official U.S. ally through NATO, the U.S. also has deep financial and diplomatic ties with Saudi Arabia. The Trump administration in particular has worked to maintain a positive relationship with the kingdom. President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump passes Pence a dangerous buck Overnight Health Care — Presented by American Health Care Association — Trump taps Pence to lead coronavirus response | Trump accuses Pelosi of trying to create panic | CDC confirms case of 'unknown' origin | Schumer wants .5 billion in emergency funds Trump nods at reputation as germaphobe during coronavirus briefing: 'I try to bail out as much as possible' after sneezes MORE and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman hosted each other for two rounds of friendly talks in 2017. 

Canada and Saudi Arabia began sparring last week when a Canadian official spoke out against the recent arrest of a Saudi human rights activist. 

After Saudi authorities arrested women's rights activist Samar Badawi last week, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland tweeted that Canada "stands together" with Badawi and her detained sister, who is also an activist, Raif Badawi. 

Saudi Arabia responded by suspending flights between the two countries, removing thousands of Saudi students studying at Canadian schools and withdrawing the Saudi ambassador to Canada, Reuters reported. 

The kingdom also expelled the Canadian ambassador to Saudi Arabia. 

Samar Badawi was the first woman to sue the government over the right to vote, and sued her father to block him from preventing her from marrying the man of her choice, ABC reported. Her sister Raif was jailed for creating a website called "Free Saudi Liberals" that was critical of the government. 

Nauert declined to denounce Saudi Arabia's detainment of the Badawi sisters.

"Some of these issues we choose to discuss privately with our friends, with our partners, with our allies," Nauert said.

"I can tell you however we have raised these issues and I'll leave it at that."

A State Deparment official earlier in the day told the Agence France-Presse (AFP) that the U.S. has raised the issue with Saudi Arabia.

"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," the anonymous spokeswoman told AFP.

Ottawa has long refused to deepen ties with the Saudi government over the country's track record on human rights.