March 2, 2009
No. 54

Minister Cannon Concludes Successful Middle East Visit

The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today wrapped up his first official visit to the Middle East, during which he met key regional leaders and participated in an international conference on support for the economy and reconstruction of Gaza in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. At the conference, the Minister confirmed Canada's ongoing assistance to the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza.

"Canada has long assisted and provided support to the Palestinian Authority," said Minister Cannon. "We stand firmly behind the direction set by President Mahmoud Abbas toward a well-governed, democratic and prosperous Palestinian state living side-by-side in peace with Israel. We believe just as firmly that it is not in the Palestinian people's interest for terrorist organizations such as Hamas to launch rocket attacks on Israeli civilians."

The Sharm el-Sheikh conference, which took place on March 2, was co-sponsored by Egypt and Norway. It brought together more than 70 international leaders to discuss a framework for providing immediate and long-term support to Gaza following the recent crisis.

Minister Cannon also met with President Abbas prior to the conference and conveyed Canada's unwavering support for his leadership. He encouraged President Abbas to renew peace efforts with Israel and reaffirmed Canada's full support.

Canada has committed $300 million in support of the Middle East peace process through assistance to the Palestinian Authority. The support is focused on justice and security system reform. Canada is also paying particular attention to the humanitarian needs of the population of Gaza, as demonstrated by its contribution of $4 million, announced January 7.

Minister Cannon's participation in the conference concludes his three-day Middle East visit. On February 28, he visited Jordan and met with Nasser Judeh, Jordan's Foreign Minister. In Israel, he met with Tzipi Livni, Israel's Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister-designate. He reaffirmed Canada's long-standing support for the state of Israel and expressed the country's firm belief in Israel's right to self-defence.

For more information on Minister's Cannon's visit to Jordan and Israel, please see Minister Cannon Concludes Visit to Jordan and Israel.

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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