Minister Baird Concludes Meeting with Contact Group on Libya

(No. 205 – July 15, 2011 – 12:30 p.m. ET) John Baird, Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister, today emerged from the fourth meeting of the Contact Group on Libya in Istanbul, Turkey, and expressed Canada’s continued commitment to protecting Libyan civilians.

“Canada’s approach has been a collaborative one with our allies, and meetings like this reconfirm that this method is working,” said Minister Baird. “Canada has played—and will continue to play—a leadership role in helping the Libyan people, legitimately represented by the National Transitional Council, secure a brighter future for a free Libya.”

Co-hosted by Turkey’s foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, and the foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates, Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, this latest meeting of the Contact Group on Libya served to further international efforts to maintain pressure on the Qadhafi regime and, ultimately, secure a peaceful resolution that would include Colonel Qadhafi’s departure from power.

“The international community needs to maintain political and military pressure on the regime so it ceases its violence against civilians. We also need to continue to demonstrate international solidarity in support of the Libyan people,” said Minister Baird. “To ensure that the Libyan people have the safe and free future they are calling for, Col. Qadhafi must go.”

Minister Baird attended this latest meeting of the Contact Group in keeping with the enhanced engagement strategy he announced in Parliament last month. As part of this strategy, the Minister recently went on a fact-finding mission to Benghazi, Libya, where he met with the chair of the National Transitional Council, Mustafa Abdul Jalil, and other Council members.

"During my visit to Benghazi, I was genuinely impressed by the Council’s clear commitment to rebuilding Libya, despite the significant personal sacrifices that almost all Council members have been forced to make,” added Minister Baird. "I continue to believe the Council members are best placed to represent the interests of the Libyan people.

"Canada believes that we are at a defining moment in this crisis, when everything becomes possible and a solution may not be too far away. We continue to call on all parties to explore an early resolution to the crisis."

Canada recently provided an additional $2 million in humanitarian assistance, for a total of $10.6 million to date, to help those affected by the crisis. Canada’s commitment includes dedicated funding to assist victims of rape—which is being widely used as a weapon of war in the conflict.

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