Minister Cannon Concludes Successful Discussions at African Union Summit

(No. 51 – January 31, 2010 – 8 p.m. ET) The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today concluded a successful attendance at the 14th African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from January 29 to 31.

While in Addis Ababa, Minister Cannon met with numerous African leaders and ministers, including Ethiopian Prime Minister, His Excellency Meles Zenawi and Ethiopian Minister of Foreign Affairs, His Excellency Seyoum Mesfin.

"Ethiopia is a valued development partner, especially in light of the progress made toward achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals in health and education," said Minister Cannon. "Canada would also like to express its sincere condolences to the government and the people of Ethiopia for the airplane tragedy that occurred on January 25."

Minister Cannon also met with His Excellency Jean Ping, Chairperson of the African Union Commission.

"Canada is pleased to have worked closely with the African Union and previously with the Organization of African Unity for many years," said Minister Cannon. "The African Union plays an increasing leadership role across the African continent and remains a valuable international partner for Canada."

On January 30, in Addis Ababa, the Minister addressed the 22nd Summit of the New Partnership for African Development's (NEPAD) Heads of State and Government Implementation Committee.

"Canada welcomes the further integration of the NEPAD into the structure of the African Union," said Minister Cannon. "Bringing this key continental initiative under the auspices of the AU is a crucial step in making its implementation more effective and widespread."

During his address, Minister Cannon also provided an overview of Canada's plans regarding the G8 and G20 Summits, which were welcomed at the opening ceremony of the African Union Assembly by Chairperson Ping.

"Canada is proud to be G8 President in 2010. In June, Canada will host two separate summits: the G8 Muskoka Summit and the G20 Summit in Toronto. This will be a landmark year as it provides Canada with an unprecedented opportunity to demonstrate international leadership as well as the effectiveness of the G8 and G20 in addressing pressing global challenges.

"Prime Minister Harper has said that as president of the G8 in 2010, Canada will champion a major initiative to improve the health of women and children in the world's poorest regions. Members of the G8 can make a tangible difference in maternal and child health and Canada will be making this the top priority in June. Far too many lives and unexplored futures have already been lost for want of relatively simple health care solutions.

"The G20 will continue to work toward restoring the health of the global economic and financial system," said Minister Cannon. "Canada will use its presidency of the G8 to respond to the key development and peace and security challenges which are at the top of the international agenda."

Minister Cannon congratulated the President of Malawi, His Excellency Bingu wa Mutharika, for assuming the rotating African Union Chairmanship of the Assembly for the next 12 months.  

"We hope that Canada and the African Union can continue to work in close partnership as the Commission's capabilities and responsibilities continue to grow."

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