Minister of Foreign Affairs to Visit Middle East

[This news release has been modified: new version.]

(No. 47 - February 26, 2009) The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today announced that he will be visiting the Middle East from February 28 to March 2, 2009, to meet with Jordanian, Israeli, Palestinian and Egyptian leaders and ministers.

"I look forward to meeting with my counterparts and others to advance bilateral issues and to discuss how the international community can best support Middle East peace efforts," said Minister Cannon. "I appreciate very much the constructive approach of key moderate states in the region, such as Jordan and Egypt. I am pleased to have this opportunity to discuss Canada's support for their efforts and the way forward on the peace process.

"My meetings with the Israeli and Palestinian leaders will serve to reaffirm Canada's full support for reaching their goal of a comprehensive peace agreement. We recognize the efforts President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad have made to improve the security situation in the West Bank. Canada will support only those Palestinian leaders who understand that civil order and an end to terrorism are essential conditions for the fulfilment of Palestinian national ambitions. Our government continues to support Israel's right to protect its citizens and defend itself."

On March 2, Minister Cannon will attend the Conference in Support of the Palestinian Economy for the Reconstruction of Gaza, being co-hosted by Egypt and Norway in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. Egypt has played an important role in bringing about a lasting ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. At this conference, leaders from the international community will discuss the challenges ahead and offer their support in achieving the early recovery and meeting the humanitarian needs of the people of Gaza.

In 2006, Canada committed $300 million in assistance over five years to the Palestinian people. In January 2009, Canada also provided an additional $4 million in response to pressing humanitarian needs in Gaza.

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For further information, media representatives may contact:

Natalie Sarafian
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs
613-995-1851

Foreign Affairs Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
613-995-1874