Saudi Arabia's diplomatic dispute with Canada: An explainer

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They are involved in a human rights row over Canada's demands for Canadian activists jailed in the kingdom to be released.

While Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said Ottawa will wait to hear more details from Saudi Arabia before responding to the country's decision to freeze new trade deals and expel Canada's ambassador, she defended Canada's position, insisting Ottawa will always stand up for human rights.

"We are always going to speak up for human rights, we are always going to speak up for women's rights and that is not going to change, " Freeland said from Vancouver on Monday.

Saudi Arabia's move came followed a tweet Friday from Global Affairs Canada which expressed concerns about the arrests of civil and women's rights activists and asking the Saudi government to immediately release them.

Amnesty International noted Ms Badawi has been repeatedly targeted and interrogated by Saudi security forces for her human rights activist.

Saudia said it would be temporarily stopping inbound and outbound flights to Toronto Pearson International Airport - the only Canadian destination it serves - from August 13.

Both the Saudi and Canadian ambassadors were away on leave when it was made.

Among the arrested is Samar Badawi, an award-winning women's-rights activist who sought to abolish the country's male-guardianship laws.

Here's how we got there: While we've been digesting the news that Saudi Arabia has been using USA aid in Yemen and making alliances with Osama Bin Laden's weak-but-intact terror franchisees, the Saudis got into a fight with our neighbors to the north over women's rights - specifically, whether to have any.

Meanwhile, through a statement published by the Palestinian Press Agency, President Mahmoud Abbas also assured the support of Palestinians to Saudi Arabia and its move against Canada's intervention. His wife, Ensaf Haidar, lives in Canada and recently became a Canadian citizen.

But Riyadh's singling out of Canada is aimed at strongly discouraging other critical Western governments from speaking out, observers say.

The Saudi government said in a statement: "We have put on hold all new business and investment transactions with Canada while retaining its right to take further action".

'There isn't a strong bilateral trade relationship and poking the Trudeau government likely resonates with Saudi's hawkish regional allies.

"So neither Saudi nor Canada are going to be affected much by stopping the wheat and barley trade".

When asked about the contract, Freeland said the government "looks forward" to hearing from Riyadh about the future of the deal.

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