U.S. State Department urges Canada, Saudi Arabia to resolve dispute

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. State Department on Tuesday urged Canada and Saudi Arabia to use diplomacy to resolve their dispute over the arrest of activists in the Arab kingdom, State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert said, adding the department has raised the issue with the Saudis.

“Both sides need to diplomatically resolve this together. We can’t do it for them, they need to resolve it together,” Nauert said in a briefing.

On Monday, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir criticized Canada’s call for the country to free civil society activists that have been arrested. On Sunday, Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador to Canada, froze new trade and investment and expelled the Canadian ambassador.

The United States has spoken to the Arab state about human rights and other issues, Nauert said. Canada planned to seek help from United Arab Emirates and Britain, sources told Reuters.

Asked why Washington had not sided with its northern neighbor in the dispute, Nauert said the United States had discussed the tensions with Saudi Arabia.

“We would encourage the government of Saudi Arabia overall to address and respect due process and also publicize information on some of its legal cases,” she added.

Washington has referred to both Canada and Saudi Arabia as close allies.

Reporting by Lesley Wroughton and Daphne Psaledakis; Editing by Tom Brown and David Gregorio