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Saudi Arabia weighs more actions on Canada amid reports of asset sell-off

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Saudi Arabia weighs more actions on Canada amid reports of asset sell-off

Saudi Arabia said it is considering additional measures against Canada amid reports that it started selling off Canadian assets to further its response to what Riyadh calls the North American nation's "blatant interference" in Saudi domestic affairs.

The kingdom's Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir said Aug. 8 that officials are still "considering additional measures" against Canada, according to Reuters.

"There is nothing to mediate. A mistake has been made and a mistake should be corrected," Al-Jubeir told a news conference in Riyadh.

The kingdom on Aug. 5 suspended new trade and investment with Canada after Ottawa asked for the "immediate release" of civil society and women's rights activists in Saudi Arabia, including Samar Badawi.

Earlier on Aug. 8, two sources with direct knowledge of the orders told the Financial Times that the Saudi central bank and state pension funds instructed their overseas asset managers to dispose of their Canadian equities, bonds and cash holdings starting Aug. 7 "no matter the cost."

While the kingdom's investments in Canadian holdings would be "fairly small in absolute terms," the sell-off sent a strong message, one of the sources reportedly said.

Saudi Arabia also expelled Canada's ambassador and recalled its own envoy in response to Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland's criticism of the arrest of women's rights activists.

A source at a Saudi bank told Reuters that the central bank asked for information about its Canadian exposure investments in Canada and foreign exchange positions but received no instructions to sell assets due to lack of exposure.