October 7, 2012 - The Honourable Diane Ablonczy, Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas and Consular Affairs), will visit Guatemala and Belize from October 10 to 14, 2012, to deepen Canada’s relationships with these two important countries in the Americas and to further demonstrate Canadian leadership on the world stage.
“Canada continues to strengthen ties with our neighbours throughout the hemisphere, including with important partners like Guatemala and Belize,” said Minister Ablonczy. “This visit represents an opportunity to reinforce Canada’s strong engagement in the Americas, and to follow through on our commitment to foster security in the region and to build shared prosperity.”
In Guatemala, Minister Ablonczy will meet with Guatemala’s President, His Excellency Otto Pérez Molina, and with Carlos Raúl Morales, Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs. Their discussions are expected to focus on Canadian and Guatemalan efforts to strengthen justice, including for cases of serious crimes committed during the country’s internal armed conflict. After her visit to Guatemala, Minister Ablonczy will travel to Belize where she will meet with Wilfred Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and with John Saldivar, Minister of National Security. She will also tour the National Forensic Science Laboratory where Canada is supporting Belize’s capacity to undertake criminal investigations.
Canada has made significant contributions to improving safety and security in Central America. These efforts were strengthened when, at the Summit of the Americas in Colombia in April 2012, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the Canadian Initiative for Security in Central America. The program builds on Canada’s previous security programming in the region through a disbursement of $25 million over five years, a significant portion of which supports projects in Guatemala and Belize.
Guatemala is Canada’s second most important merchandise trade partner in Central America. Two-way merchandise trade between Canada and Guatemala has increased by 24 percent since 2010, totalling $513.6 million in 2011. Canada’s two-way trade with Belize totalled $13.6 million in 2011, an increase of 6.1 percent since 2010.
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For further information, media representatives may contact:
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas and Consular Affairs)
Foreign Affairs Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
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