Canada not sending anyone to Saudi business summit

Sources insist Ottawa never intended to dispatch a delegation this time around

Canada will not be sending anyone to a major investment conference in Saudi Arabia next week at a time when Riyadh is the target of global outrage – but sources insist Ottawa never intended to dispatch a delegation this time around.

A senior government source says cabinet ministers, federal officials and embassy staff will skip next week’s Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh, which is also called ”Davos in the Desert.”

Last year, then-natural resources minister Jim Carr attended the inaugural edition of the summit.

RELATED: Man linked to Saudi prince at consulate when writer vanished

Saudi Arabia faces intense global pressure following the disappearance and apparent death of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi citizen and U.S. resident who has written critically of the Saudi regime.

Key international figures have announced they’ve cancelled plans to attend the Saudi summit, including top business executives, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, European cabinet ministers, International Monetary Fund head Christine Lagarde and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim.

Canada’s relationship with Saudi Arabia hit trouble in August, when Riyadh suspended diplomatic ties with Canada and expelled the Canadian ambassador after Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland criticized the regime on Twitter for its arrest of social activists.

RELATED: Joint inspection planned for missing journalist at Saudi Consulate

U.S. President Donald Trump has said that, during their recent conversation, the Saudi king firmly denied allegations that he or his crown prince had any knowledge of or role in the disappearance of Khashoggi, who was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

— with files from Associated Press

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