August 17, 2009 (5 p.m. EDT)
No. 224

Parliamentary Secretary Obhrai Concludes Extensive International Diplomatic Engagement

On August 9, Deepak Obhrai, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, successfully concluded six weeks of diplomatic engagement on three continents. In addition to leading Canada’s delegations to the African Union Summit in Libya, to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Post Ministerial Conference and Regional Forum in Thailand and to the Pacific Islands Forum in Australia, he also made official Government of Canada visits to Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Indonesia.

“It was a very productive trip,” said Parliamentary Secretary Obhrai. “We strengthened our relations with dozens of states and regional bodies. I met with foreign ministers, prime ministers and presidents from across Africa, Asia and the Pacific and engaged in frank discussion on a wide range of issues.”

In Thailand, Mr. Obhrai, on behalf of Canada, co-chaired the ASEAN Post Ministerial Conference meeting, which saw the unanimous adoption of the Joint Declaration on the ASEAN-Canada Enhanced Partnership. This joint declaration will allow Canada to advance its priorities in areas such as human rights and fundamental freedoms, counterterrorism, security, trade and investment and sustainable development, as well as increasing people-to-people contacts.

In Sri Lanka, Mr. Obhrai visited the country’s camps for internally displaced persons. He also held discussions with Sri Lankan officials on how the country was going to address the challenge of postwar reconciliation.

Mr. Obhrai was in Indonesia from July 28 to 31, shortly after the July 17 terrorist attacks in Jakarta. He met with Indonesia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Nur Hassan Wirajuda. “I conveyed Canada’s strong condemnation of the suicide bombings. I was appalled by the tragic loss of life,” said Mr. Obhrai. “Canada has excellent relations with Indonesia and will continue to cooperate with Indonesia to combat terrorism.”

While in Indonesia, Mr. Obhrai delivered keynote remarks at a graduation ceremony of Jakarta’s Canadian-funded School of Human Rights for College Students, and visited the Jakarta Centre for Law Enforcement Cooperation—to which Canada is a major contributor—in Semarang, Central Java. In addition, he delivered a guest lecture at the State Islamic University in Yogyakarta—the first facility in Indonesia to offer visitors a wealth of information on Canada—and met with the Indonesia-Canada Chamber of Commerce.

On August 7, Mr. Obhrai participated in the Pacific Island Post-Forum Dialogue, held in Cairns, Australia. The Pacific Island Forum—of which Canada is a Dialogue Partner—comprises 16 independent and self-governing states in the Pacific. The Forum is the region’s premier political and economic policy organization. Forum leaders meet annually to develop collective responses to regional issues.

“Canada continues to be a key player on the world stage,” said Parliamentary Secretary Obhrai. “Our government uses every opportunity to advance our principled foreign policy in the interest of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.”

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For further information, media representatives may contact:

Darryl Whitehead
Special Assistant to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs
Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs
613-995-1851

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