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Canada still selling armoured vehicles to Saudis despite ‘concern’ of missing journalist: Trudeau - National

Category: Political News,Politics

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada is still selling armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia, despite reports of a journalist being killed at the Saudi consulate in Turkey’s capital.

Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributor who has written columns critical of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, went missing on Oct. 2. On Friday, Turkey said it had audio and video proof that the journalist was killed and dismembered in the Saudi consulate, according to reports.

READ MORE: Turkey says it has proof Saudi journalist was killed, dismembered: reports

Speaking at a media event Friday, Trudeau was asked whether the government will continue its contract with the Saudis in the wake of this news.

“This particular case is of course of concern and we join with our allies around the world in expressing serious issues with these reports. Obviously, there’s a lot more to uncover on what happened here,” Trudeau said.

“On the issue of selling weapons to Saudi Arabia, the previous government signed a contract with Saudi Arabia to sell armoured vehicles … we respected that contract but at the same time brought in significantly new and strengthened measures around transparency, around accountability in ensuring … we are making sure Canadians’ expectations and laws are always being followed.”

WATCH: Trudeau defends Saudi arms deal despite poor human rights record

The arms deal between Canada and Saudi Arabia was put through by the former Conservative government and upheld by Trudeau. It allows a Canadian company to sell $15 billion worth of light armoured vehicles to the regime.

Recently, there has been a deepening diplomatic dispute between Canada and the Saudis, which started in August when Global Affairs Canada called for the “immediate release” of women’s rights activists Samar Badawi and Nassima al-Sadah.

READ MORE: As Saudi-Canada feud escalates, here’s how axing armoured vehicle deal could hurt Trudeau in 2019

In response, Saudi Arabia expelled Canada’s ambassador, froze new trade and investment, suspended a student exchange program and halted flights by state-owned Saudi Arabian Airlines to Canada for what it called “blatant interference” in its domestic affairs.

And now there is the growing tension between Saudi Arabia and the rest of the world after the disappearance of Khashoggi.

France, Germany and the U.S. are among the countries that have spoken out about their concern on the fate of the missing Saudi writer.

WATCH: Trump says missing Saudi journalist a terrible thing ‘assuming it happened’

On Thursday, U.S. President Donald Trump said he had spoken with the Saudis about what he called a “bad situation,” but he did not disclose details of his conversations. He also said the U.S. was working “very closely” with Turkey, “and I think we’ll get to the bottom of it.”

Global business leaders are also reassessing their ties with Saudi Arabia.

British billionaire Richard Branson on Friday suspended business links with Saudi Arabia, and Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said he might not attend a major investment conference in the country this month.

— With a file from Global News’ Andrew Russell 

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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