Minister of State Valcourt to Make First Visit to Africa

June 19, 2012 - The Honourable Bernard Valcourt, Minister of State (Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency) (La Francophonie), will lead a Canadian delegation on a visit to Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Côte d’Ivoire from June 19 to 27, 2012. He will then visit France from June 28 to 29, 2012.

In DRC, Minister Valcourt will meet with key members of the Congolese government, as well as with representatives of civil society and the private sector. During these meetings, the minister will discuss issues related to democracy and human rights leading up to the 14th Francophonie Summit, which is taking place in Kinshasa from October 12 to 14, 2012.

The summit will be a good opportunity to strengthen dialogue with DRC on its commitments within La Francophonie in terms of democracy, human rights and governance, while insisting on the importance of making concrete progress in these areas. Minister Valcourt’s visit will also enable him to assess how preparations for the summit are progressing.

In Côte d’Ivoire—also a member of La Francophonie—Minister Valcourt will reaffirm Canada’s support for the country’s efforts to re-establish peace and stability after a serious political and military crisis in 2011. He will take the opportunity to acknowledge the work of civilians and Canadian police officers working with the United Nations in Côte d’Ivoire and to express Canada’s support for the mediation efforts being made by President Alassane Ouattara, in his capacity as president of the Economic Community of West African States, during the crisis in Mali and Guinea-Bissau, two countries currently suspended from the International Organization of La Francophonie.

Minister Valcourt’s visit to Côte d’Ivoire will also focus on strengthening Canada’s commercial ties with the country. Côte d’Ivoire looks favourably on Canadian investment and is moving forward with negotiations toward a foreign investment promotion and protection agreement, a process that began in March 2012.

Canada’s commitment to Africa, and its contributions to peace and security across the continent, will also be discussed during these visits, as will natural resource management and the role that Canada can play in this regard.

Following his visit to Africa, Minister Valcourt will travel to Paris to meet with Abdou Diouf, Secretary General of La Francophonie, as well as with his French counterpart, Yamina Benguigui, Minister Delegate for French Nationals Abroad and Francophony.

Minister Valcourt will be accompanied by a Canadian delegation, including Philippe Beaulne, the Prime Minister’s Personal Representative for La Francophonie. Chris Alexander, Member of Parliament and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Defence, as well as Bernard Trottier, Member of Parliament and a member of both the House of Commons Standing Committee on Official Languages and the Parliamentary Assembly of La Francophonie, will accompany the Minister to the DRC.

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For further information, media representatives may contact:

Andréa Richer
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of State (Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency) (La Francophonie)
613-790-3637

Foreign Affairs Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
613-995-1874
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