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Canada Expands Diplomatic Reach

April 2, 2013 - Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird today announced that Ambassador Arif Lalani will assume new duties as Canada’s first-ever Special Envoy to the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

“This appointment is the latest example of Canada’s principled foreign policy in action,” said Baird. “It is also part of our government’s concerted efforts to forge new partnerships, seek out new markets and find new ways of promoting Canadian values around the world.”

Based in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, the OIC brings together members from four continents. Canada will engage with them to address issues they face.

“Ambassador Lalani’s international policy expertise and his interest in doing modern diplomacy differently make him a natural choice for this new role,” said Baird. “He will help create new opportunities for long-term, collective prosperity based on shared values of pluralism, human rights and the rule of law.”

Baird announced the appointment while on a bilateral visit to the United Arab Emirates, where Ambassador Lalani is currently posted. He will serve in both capacities concurrently. His appointment as Special Envoy to the OIC is effective immediately.

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A biographical note on the appointee follows.

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Biographical Note

Arif Lalani (BA [International Relations], University of British Columbia, 1989; MSc [Management, Organizations and Governance], London School of Economics, 2009) has undertaken various assignments at Headquarters and abroad. In 1994, he was assigned to the Embassy of Canada to Turkey. Mr. Lalani also served abroad at the Permanent Mission of Canada to the United Nations in New York during Canada’s term on the Security Council and as counsellor in Washington, D.C. In 2006, he was appointed ambassador to Jordan, with accreditation to the Republic of Iraq and in 2007 he was appointed ambassador to Afghanistan. At Headquarters, Mr. Lalani has worked in the Office of the Senior Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process as coordinator for the Balkans, was director of the South Asia Division and director general of both the South and Southeast Asia Bureau and the Strategic Policy Bureau. He was founder and chair of the Working Group on Relations with Muslim Communities from 2005 to 2006. Mr. Lalani is a member of the Operating Board of Directors of the Centre for International Governance Innovation. He also serves as a senior fellow and member of the Advisory Board for the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto. In August 2012, Mr. Lalani was appointed ambassador to the United Arab Emirates with concurrent appointment as Canada’s first-ever special envoy to the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation in April 2013. He was presented with the Alam Sayad Jamal-u-Din al Afghani medal in 2008 for his contribution to building peace and stability in Afghanistan. He is a recipient of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal for service to Canada and Canadians.