Saudi Arabia reassures Canada on oil supplies as dispute drags on

FILE PHOTO: Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih and Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak attend a news conference at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia February 14, 2018. REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser/File Photo

Vastavam web: Saudi Arabia’s oil supplies to Canada will not be impacted by a dispute between the two countries, the kingdom’s energy minister said on Thursday, reassuring customers after Riyadh froze new trade with Canada and ruled out mediation efforts.The world’s largest oil exporter has a “firm and long-standing policy” that petroleum supplies are not influenced by political considerations, Khalid al-Falih said in a statement.

Saudi Arabia, infuriated by Canada’s demand last week that jailed rights activists in the kingdom be released immediately, expelled the Canadian ambassador on Sunday, blocked imports of Canadian grain and ended state-backed educational and medical programs in Canada.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.Since rising to power in 2015, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has courted Western allies to support his reform plans to modernize and open up the kingdom, offering billions of dollars of arms sales and promising to fight radicalism in the kingdom.In addition to the trade freeze, Riyadh has stopped sending patients to Canadian hospitals and suspended educational exchanges, moving Saudi scholars to other countries.