Canadian Diplomat Says Ottawa Made Mistakes in its Dealings with Riyadh

Canadian Diplomat Says Ottawa Made Mistakes in its Dealings with Riyadh

Thursday, 11 October, 2018 - 05:45
Former Canadian Ambassador to Riyadh Dennis Horak. Asharq Al-Awsat
Ottawa - Asharq Al-Awsat
Canada made mistakes in its dealings with Saudi Arabia which helped spark a diplomatic dispute, the former Canadian ambassador to Riyadh, Dennis Horak, said on Wednesday.

In August, Saudi Arabia froze new trade with Canada, expelled Horak and ordered all Saudi students home after the embassy urged the release of a wanted individual, a move that Riyadh considered an interference in its affairs.

“It was a situation that didn’t need to occur ... to sort of yell from the sidelines I don’t think is effective,” Horak said in a phone interview with Reuters.

Horak’s comments mark the first time a senior Canadian official has conceded Ottawa was responsible for the row.

Horak also said the Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should have spent more time trying to improve ties with Riyadh.

Horak, now retired, said he did not know the tweet - which had called on Saudi Arabia for the release of the wanted individual - was going to be issued and would have advised against it.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir asked Canada on Sept. 26 to apologize for its actions.

Horak said Ottawa needed to put more effort into talking with nations it did not always agree with.

“We’re wrong not to engage a country like Saudi Arabia,” he said.

“We yell via tweet or statement ... but in terms of trying to effect change, or trying to have any influence on those issues we’re interested in, it’s not effective because they have no investment in the relationship. So why would they listen to us?” he added.

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