(No. 21 - January 14, 2011 - 11:45 a.m. ET) The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today issued the following statement at the conclusion of his visit to Algeria, where he met with Algerian leaders including President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and Minister of Foreign Affairs Mourad Medelci, and to Qatar, where he co-chaired the meeting of the 7th Forum for the Future of the G8-Broader Middle East and North Africa Initiative (BMENA):
"Canada agreed on an expansion of our air transport agreement with Algeria, one that will allow for increased two-way commercial relations, tourism and people-to-people contacts. Our two countries also signed a framework to ensure we meet on a regular basis to advance our relations.
"I was pleased to meet France's new minister of foreign and European affairs, Michèle Alliot-Marie. Canada has now passed G8 chair responsibilities to France and I look forward to working with her in this capacity and on a number of issues of common interest.
"Qatar and Canada share a strong commercial relationship that goes back several years. We recently signed an air agreement expanding the number of weekly commercial flights between our countries."
Since the launch of the Blue Sky International Air Policy in November 2006, the Government of Canada has negotiated air transport agreements with more than 50 countries, including open skies-type agreements with 11 countries and expanded agreements with nine others. Qatar is the latest country to join the latter list. A comprehensive air transport agreement also exists between Canada and the European Union's 27 member states.
Minister Cannon had an opportunity to talk with many of his counterparts from the Middle East and North Africa. These were the first visits to both Algeria and Qatar by a Canadian foreign affairs minister in over 10 years.
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