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Saudi Arabia's main state wheat buying agency has told grains exporters it will no longer buy Canadian wheat and barley in its global tenders, European traders said on Tuesday, as a diplomatic dispute between the two countries escalates.

The office of Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland did not respond to requests for comment.

The feud between Canada and Saudi Arabia has escalated quickly since it began Friday, when Canada's Ministry of Foreign Affairs raised concerns about the kingdom's human-rights record following the arrests of several prominent human-rights activists.

'Canada will always stand up for human rights, in Canada and around the world, and women's rights are human rights, ' Freeland told an audience in Vancouver. Media reports also suggest Saudi Arabia may cancel thousands of scholarships for students attending school in Canada.

"Any other attempt to interfere with our internal affairs from Canada, means that we are allowed to interfere in Canada's internal affairs, " the Saudi government said.

Thomas Juneau, an assistant professor at the University of Ottawa, said it is hard to determine what the economic impact on Canada would be without specifics on which trade deals will be affected.

"The Embassy of Canada to Saudi Arabia, in Riyadh, continues its regular operations, including consular services", the statement added.

Ottawa did not publicly back down over the shock expulsion of Dennis Horak, with Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland saying Canada would continue to defend human rights around the world.

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Reports last week suggested that a separate North Korean site used to develop missile engines was dismantling its facilities. The same facility is known to have produced the Hwasong-15, the country's first missile capable of reaching the US.

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

In a tweet Monday, Bessma Momani, an expert on Middle East issues and a political science professor at the University of Waterloo said the affected Saudi students are now left "scrambling with what to do with their lives".

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

The true impact of Saudi Arabia's flexing of diplomatic muscle is still unclear.

Traders said they had received an official notice from the Saudi Grains Organization (SAGO) about its decision.

Many Saudis went onto suggest that Canada should mind its own business in handling their local crisis, or help the indigenous women of Canada instead of interfering in Saudi Arabia.

A pro-government Saudi Twitter account then provoked outrage when it posted - and then deleted - a 9/11-style digitally altered image showing a plane flying towards the Toronto skyline.


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