Saudi Arabia's diplomatic dispute with Canada over its arrest of women's rights activists will not affect the ultraconservative kingdom's oil sales to Canadian customers, the Saudi energy minister said Thursday.
The remarks by Khalid al-Falih show the limits of the ongoing quarrel and may calm some of the bluster surrounding the dispute that suddenly erupted Monday over Canadian diplomats' tweets asking the kingdom to release the detained activists.
A statement carried by the state-run Saudi Press Agency quoted al-Falih as saying oil sales are not affected by politics as there is a "firm and longstanding policy that is not influenced by political circumstances."
Canada, itself one of the world's five top energy producers, gets some 10 per cent of its oil imports from Saudi Arabia. Bilateral trade between the two nations is $3 billion a year.
Saudi Arabia expelled the Canadian ambassador on Monday and froze "all new business" with Ottawa over its criticism of the kingdom's arrest of women's rights activists. Among the arrested activists is Samar Badawi, whose writer brother Raif Badawi was arrested in Saudi Arabia in 2012 and later sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in prison for insulting Islam while blogging.