Canadian FM Mackay arrived for his first visit to Israel, at a peak in relations between the two countries.

 Canadian FM Mackay visits Israel


FM Livni greets Canadian FM Mackay in Jerusalem, Jan 21 (Reuters)

(Communicated by the Foreign Ministry Spokesman)

Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Peter Gordon Mackay arrived in Israel on 20 January for his first visit here.

In the course of his visit he will meet with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Vice Premier Shimon Peres, Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni, and with Opposition leader MK Binyamin Netanyahu. He will also visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority, and will address the Herzliya Conference.

Since its election in January 2006, the Canadian government headed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper has maintained particularly warm relations with Israel, and bilateral and diplomatic ties are currently at their peak. Canada has been at the forefront of the international efforts against the Iranian nuclear threat. The Harper government was the first to boycott Hamas immediately after its election, and supported Israel during the Lebanon war against Hizbullah. Canada is also one of Israel’s staunch supporters in the United Nations and other international forums, such as the G-8.

Bilateral relations between the two countries have in recent years become both stronger and more extensive. Mutual trade has recently passed the billion dollar mark (exports and imports, with an advantage to Israeli exports). In the wake of the free trade agreement signed a decade ago, cooperation between Israel and the Canada in the areas of science and technology has been enhanced, and a series of R&D funds for scientific and industrial cooperation have been set up between Israel and Canadian provinces. The two countries also cooperate on homefront security and maintani ties between their legal systems and supreme courts.

In light of these very positive relations, Canada is interested in increasing its involvement in and support for the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. Israel welcomes such a development, and this will be one of the matters discussed during the current visit to Israel by the Canadian foreign minister.