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Trudeau told to deepen ties to Saudi Arabia, brace for change in Iran

Last Updated Jan 9, 2016 at 8:22 am PDT

File Photo: Justin Trudeau in Ottawa on Jan. 26, 2015. FLICKR/Justin Trudeau

OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) – Federal officials have told Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that Canada’s strategic interest would be well served by strengthening economic ties with oil-rich Saudi Arabia because of its powerful position in the Persian Gulf.

That advice sheds light on why the Liberals are rejecting calls to cancel a $15-billion sale of armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia following its execution last weekend of 47 people, including a prominent Shiite cleric.

Trudeau has also been advised to anticipate the easing of possible sanctions against Iran in the coming months if progress is made on implementing last year’s landmark nuclear agreement between Tehran and six countries, including the United States — a prospect that seemed imminent on Wednesday.

The assessments are contained in Trudeau’s briefing book, a copy of which was obtained by The Canadian Press under Access to Information.

The execution of Sheik Nimr al-Nimr has sparked tension between mainly Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran and heightened fears of direct conflict between the two countries.

Canada’s interests in the tumultuous region are spelled out in the briefings prepared for Trudeau, who faces calls to cancel the lucrative sale of light armoured vehicles by an Ontario company.