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Newsline: Canada and Saudi Arabia agree to restore diplomatic ties

Canada and Saudi Arabia have agreed to restore full diplomatic ties and appoint new ambassadors, both countries said on Wednesday, ending the fallout from a 2018 dispute that damaged relations and trade. Wednesday’s decision stems from “the desire for both sides to restore diplomatic relations between the two countries on the basis of mutual respect and common interests,” the statements said. The decision follows discussions held between Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on the sidelines of the summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum in Bangkok in November last year, according to statements from Canada and Saudi Arabia. “Punitive trade measures will be lifted,” said a Canadian government source familiar with the agreement who was not authorized to speak on the record. (https://neuters.de/world/canada-saudi-arabia-appoint-new-ambassadors-end-2018-dispute-2023-05-24/) The 2018 row started when Canada’s embassy in Riyadh published a tweet in Arabic urging the immediate release of women’s rights activists held by Saudi Arabia. That prompted Riyadh to recall its ambassador and bar the envoy from returning, and to institute a ban on new trade. The normalization comes as the Saudi prince, known as MbS, seeks to reassert Saudi Arabia as a regional power by using his place atop an energy giant in an oil-dependent world. “We’ve seen in recent years that Saudi is an important global player,” said the source. “Saudi Arabia helped evacuate Canadians (in Sudan), and they’re also playing an important role in finding a solution to the conflict there.” Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly has said “we need to have conversations with people we don’t always agree with on everything in order to find global solutions to global problems,” the source added. Canada will appoint Jean-Philippe Linteau as its new ambassador in Riyadh.

Newsline: Canada and China’s diplomatic row deepens

In recent months, Canadian media have released a steady drip of reports, many based on leaked intelligence, about detailed claims of Chinese meddling in the country’s last two federal elections in 2019 and 2021 – the latest Western nation to sound the alarm over concerns of foreign election interference. Chinese officials have denied any interference, calling the allegations “purely baseless and defamatory”. (https://news.yahoo.com/know-canada-chinas-foreign-interference-141047443.html) The efforts are not believed to have altered the outcomes of either general election, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is under pressure to launch a national public inquiry looking into the allegations, which have strained already challenging diplomatic relations between the two countries. Most recently in May, tensions ratcheted up with tit-for-tat expulsions of a Chinese diplomat in Toronto and a Canadian diplomat in Shanghai.

Newsline: Canada pledges not to be intimidated by China’s retaliatory diplomatic expulsion

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday said Canada will not be intimidated by China following tit-for-tat diplomatic expulsions by Ottawa and Beijing. Ottawa expelled Chinese diplomat Zhao Wei on Monday over allegations related to foreign interference, and hours later, China asked a Canadian diplomat in Shanghai to leave by May 13 in response to what it called Ottawa’s “unreasonable actions”. “We understand there is retaliation, but we will not be intimidated, we will continue to do everything necessary to keep Canadians protected from foreign interference,” Trudeau told reporters in Ottawa. (https://neuters.de/world/canada-will-not-be-intimidated-by-china-says-pm-trudeau-2023-05-09/) A row has simmered since the detention of Huawei Technologies executive Meng Wanzhou in 2018 and Beijing’s subsequent arrest of two Canadians on spying charges. All three were freed in 2021.

Newsline: China expels Canadian diplomat in tit-for-tat move

China on Tuesday expelled a Canadian diplomat in Shanghai in a retaliatory move after Ottawa told a Toronto-based Chinese diplomat to leave, escalating tense relations amid concerns about Chinese influence in Canada. Canada expelled Chinese diplomat Zhao Wei on Monday after an intelligence report accused him of trying to target a Canadian lawmaker critical of China’s treatment of its Uyghur Muslim minority. “We will not tolerate any form of foreign interference,” Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said on Monday. In response to Canada’s “unreasonable actions”, China told Jennifer Lynn Lalonde, consul of the Canadian consulate in Shanghai, to leave China by May 13, according to the Chinese foreign ministry in a statement. “In response to the Canadian side’s unreasonable provocation, China has adopted corresponding retaliatory measures,” said Wang Wenbin, spokesperson at the Chinese foreign ministry, at a regular news conference. Wang added that if Canada did not heed Beijing’s warning and continues to “act recklessly”, China will “fight back resolutely and forcefully, and the Canadian side must bear all the consequences.” (https://neuters.de/world/americas/canada-expels-chinese-diplomat-accused-targeting-lawmaker-2023-05-08/) China reserves the right to respond further, the foreign ministry added.

Newsline: Canada declares Chinese diplomat ‘persona non grata’

Canada decided to expel a Chinese diplomat, following an uproar in the country over allegations of political meddling, which Beijing has fiercely denied. “Canada has decided to declare persona non grata Mr. Zhao Wei,” read a statement by Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly. “I have been clear: we will not tolerate any form of foreign interference in our internal affairs. Diplomats in Canada have been warned that if they engage in this type of behaviour, they will be sent home.” The news follows weeks of uproar in Canada sparked by revelations, first reported by the Globe and Mail newspaper, that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service found an accredited Chinese diplomat in the country had targeted opposition lawmaker Michael Chong and his relatives in China following his criticisms of Beijing’s treatment of its Uyghur minorities. Chong has repeatedly called for Zhao’s expulsion since the Globe report emerged. Beijing has denied accusations of political interference in Canada. In a statement dated May 5 and posted to the website of the Chinese Consulate in Toronto, a spokesperson flatly rejected the possibility “that a consular officer from the Chinese Consulate General in Toronto was involved in the so-called intimidation of a Canadian Member of Parliament and his relatives.” “The claim has no factual basis and is totally groundless. We express strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition to it,” it said. (https://lite.cnn.com/2023/05/08/americas/canada-expels-chinese-diplomat-intl/index.html) The intelligence service also said that Beijing had tried to sway the outcome of Canada’s federal elections in 2019 and 2021.

Newsline: Canada is considering expelling Chinese diplomat

Canada’s Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said on Thursday she is considering expelling a Chinese diplomat after a 2021 intelligence report said the official had sought to track down a Canadian lawmaker’s family in Hong Kong to intimidate them. “My deputy minister right now is meeting with the Chinese ambassador and summoning him, and that’s why also we’re assessing different options including the expulsion of diplomats,” Joly said in a parliamentary committee meeting. Joly was replying to a question from Michael Chong, the member of parliament with the opposition Conservative Party who had been singled out in the intelligence report after he backed a motion in parliament declaring China’s treatment of the Uyghur Muslim minority genocide. “Why do you minister continue to allow this diplomat to be accredited in this country?” Chong said. On Monday Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper said that China sought information about Chong and his family in a likely effort to “make an example” of him and “deter others from taking anti-PRC positions.” The Chinese consulate in Toronto denied the report. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he found out about the intelligence report from the newspaper, and on Wednesday blamed the spy agency for not passing it onto him at the time. Late on Wednesday, China sharply criticized Trudeau’s comment linking Chinese-produced lithium to slave labor, and warned Canada could face consequences if it continues “denigrating maliciously” the human rights situation in China. “The Chinese side expresses its strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition to this,” the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa said in a statement. “The Canadian side should respect facts, set aside prejudice, and stop denigrating maliciously the human rights situation in China, otherwise Canada will certainly take the consequences.” (https://finance.yahoo.com/news/1-canada-considering-expelling-chinese-194335291.html) Trudeau’s office said it did not have anything to add to his comments from last week.

Newsline: Netherlands, Canada, Sweden and Ireland evacuate citizens from Sudan

The Netherlands said “a handful” of its citizens had left on a French plane as part of a complex operation involving France, Germany and other countries. It said it had about 150 nationals in Sudan. Canada said it was suspending operations in Sudan and Canadian diplomats would temporarily work from a safe location outside the country, without commenting on evacuation efforts. Sweden and Ireland each said they were involved in efforts to evacuate citizens.

Newsline: Russia summons U.S., UK and Canadian ambassadors

Russia’s Foreign Ministry summoned the U.S., British and Canadian ambassadors for a dressing down on Tuesday after they condemned the conviction of an opposition politician on treason charges. The Russian Foreign Ministry accused the three ambassadors of “crude interference in Russia’s internal affairs and activity incompatible with their diplomatic status”, Interfax news agency reported. There was no immediate comment from the three embassies. The U.S., British and Canadian ambassadors had made a joint appearance in front of TV cameras on the steps of the Moscow court on Monday to condemn the verdict against Kara-Murza and demand his release. British Ambassador Deborah Bronnert delivered her remarks in Russian so that Russian-language TV channels could potentially broadcast them. In a statement issued on Tuesday, the foreign ministry called Bronnert’s remarks “inappropriate” and “provocative” and said they ran counter to the British embassy’s status and to diplomatic norms. The ministry said the fact that Kara-Murza had a British passport in addition to his Russian one meant nothing in the eyes of Russian law. (https://neuters.de/world/europe/russia-warns-western-diplomats-expulsion-risk-after-meddling-dissidents-case-2023-04-18/) A Moscow court jailed Kremlin critic Vladimir Kara-Murza – who holds Russian and British passports – for 25 years on Monday after a trial he and the West said was politically motivated. It was the harshest sentence of its kind since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022. Kara-Murza, 41, had lobbied Western governments for sanctions that were later imposed on Russia and individual Russians for purported human rights violations, and condemned what Moscow calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine.

Newsline: India summons Canada’s envoy

India summoned Canada’s High Commissioner on Sunday to “convey strong concern” over Sikh protesters in Canada and how they were allowed to breach the security of India’s diplomatic mission and consulates. According to Canadian media reports, hundreds of protesters gathered in front of the Indian consulate in Vancouver on Saturday over demands for an independent Sikh state, a simmering issue for decades recently triggered again. “It is expected that the Canadian government will take all steps which are required to ensure the safety of our diplomats and security of our diplomatic premises so that they are able to fulfil their normal diplomatic functions,” India’s Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement. (https://neuters.de/world/india/india-summons-canada-high-commissioner-concerned-over-sikh-protesters-2023-03-26/) The statement follows Indian police on March 21 launching a hunt for Sikh preacher Amritpal Singh, who has revived talk of an independent Sikh homeland and stoked fears of a return to violence that killed tens of thousands of people in 1980s and early 1990s. Canada has the highest population of Sikhs outside their home state of Punjab in India.

Newsline: Russia summons Canadian envoy

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday it had protested to Canada’s top envoy in Moscow over comments by Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly about “regime change” in Russia. The ministry said it summoned Canadian charge d’affaires Brian Ebel on Monday and told him Joly’s comments were unacceptable. (https://neuters.de/world/russia-summons-canadian-diplomat-protest-regime-change-statement-2023-03-21/) Canadian media quoted Joly as saying at a news conference on March 10: “We’re able to see how much we’re isolating the Russian regime right now — because we need to do so economically, politically and diplomatically — and what are the impacts also on society and how much we’re seeing potential regime change in Russia.” The Russian statement condemned the “Russophobic attack” and said it would have serious consequences for relations. Russia reserved the right to take “appropriate countermeasures” depending on Ottawa’s further steps.