Website of Saudi investment conference temporarily down after hacking

Irving Hamilton
October 23, 2018

The New Democratic Party asked the prime minister Monday why Canada would arm "one of the world's worst human rights offenders", with the Middle Eastern nation under intense scrutiny over the death of US -based journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

"Countries around the world need to know that there are things they simply can not do, and killing a journalist who disagrees with the regime is right up there at the top", Trudeau said.

"We have frozen export permits before when we had concerns about their potential misuse, and we won't hesitate to do so again, ” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday".

"It is unacceptable and unthinkable that someone could have murdered a journalist on foreign soil like this".

However, Saudi Arabia is set to sign deals worth more than $50 billion on the opening day in the oil, gas, industries and infrastructure sectors with firms such as Trafigura, Total, Hyundai, Norinco, Schlumberger, Halliburton and Baker Hughes. London, Ontario-based General Dynamics Land Systems, a unit of USA -based General Dynamics Corp., manufactures armored vehicles under a contract with Saudi Arabia signed by the Canadian government in 2014.

The managing director of the kingdom's sovereign wealth fund, the main backer of the event, said the country was becoming more transparent and that the Saudi Public Investment Fund continued to develop new industries under economic reforms launched by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

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Trudeau says the government could suspend export permits but notes the contract is structured in a way that makes it very hard to cancel and he is limited in what he can discuss publicly.

Separately, on Monday Germany's Angela Merkel vowed to halt arms sales to Saudi Arabia over Riyadh's murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

The Saudi deal has been billed as the largest arms-export contract in Canadian history. "There are very important questions about the entire relationship with Saudi Arabia that need to be asked", she said, while declining to comment on arms contracts.

Canada-Saudi relations boiled over earlier this year after Riyadh suspended ties with Ottawa after in August it called for the "immediate" release of jailed human rights activists.

With assistance from Josh Wingrove.

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