EU concerned about rights in Saudi but sidesteps Canada spat

August 07, 2018 - 7:08 am

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Commission says it is seeking clarification about the arrest of human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia but the EU's executive refuses to be drawn into a diplomatic dispute between Riyadh and Canada.

Saudi Arabia expelled the Canadian ambassador Monday and froze "all new business" with Ottawa over its criticism of the ultraconservative kingdom's arrest of women's rights activists.

Asked Tuesday about the tensions, European Commission spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said "we have been seeking clarification from Saudi authorities" over the arrests since May.

She said the commission wants to understand the allegations against the activists and to ensure they receive a fair trial.

On the diplomatic spat, Kocijancic said "we don't comment on bilateral relations." She said "we are in favor of a dialogue."

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