| Joint Statement by the Foreign Ministers of Canada and Israel
(Communicated by the Foreign Ministry Spokesman)
Canadian Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy and Israeli Foreign Minister David Levy met today in Ottowa to discuss a broad range of issues of mutual concern and to reaffirm the strong bonds of friendship between Canada and Israel.
The ministers reviewed bilateral relations and expressed their hope that businesses in both countries would take advantage of the opportunuties created by the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement. They also explored other areas where bilateral consultations between the two countries could be fruitful. Mr. Axworthy described to Mr. Levy developments in the landmine negotiations in Oslo under the Ottowa process. Mr. Levy’s invitation to visit Israel was welcomed by Mr. Axworthy.
During their meeting, the ministers agreed that for the Middle East peace process to succeed there must be a sustained effort to combat terrorism. Mr. Axworthy reiterated Canada’s commitment to international and domestic efforts to fight terrorism, including measures to curb fund-raising in Canada for terrorist purposes.
The ministers also discussed other aspects of the peace process, including settlements and the refugee issue, in light of Canada’s role as chair of the refugee working group. Mr. Axworthy underlined his continued concern about the serious economic situation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and welcomed the recent steps taken by Israel to ease economic measures imposed on the Palestinians. Mr. Levy noted that Israel was striving to promote the Palestinian track of the peace process. Finally, the foreign ministers discussed the importance to the peace process of the visit of U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to the region next week.