The Honourable Stéphane Dion, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today announced that he will travel to North Africa and the Gulf from May 21 to 26, 2016.
The Minister’s meetings in the region will provide significant opportunities to address pressing concerns, including regional and international security, stability in an increasingly volatile region, and how pluralism and respect for human rights are an integral part of the solution to these challenges.
Minister Dion will discuss the ongoing crises in Iraq, Syria and Libya, and the impact the conflicts are having on the surrounding region. Canada has increased its diplomatic engagement in North Africa and the Middle East in an effort to help find a solution to these crises, including by reinforcing ceasefire mechanisms in Syria, by providing sustained and improved access for urgent humanitarian assistance, by building counterterrorism capacity in North Africa and, more recently, by joining the International Syria Support Group (ISSG).
In Tunisia on May 21, Minister Dion will meet Prime Minister Habib Essid and Minister of Foreign Affairs Khemaies Jhinaoui, and will reiterate Canada’s support for Tunisia’s pluralistic democracy, which provides an important model for the region. He will also meet Fathi Mijbari, Deputy Prime Minister of Libya’s Government of National Accord, and Martin Kobler, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and Head of the UN Support Mission in Libya, to discuss the serious situation in Libya and efforts by the international community, including the UN, to assist the new government.
The Minister will then participate in the Canada-Gulf Cooperation Council Strategic Dialogue Meeting of Foreign Ministers on May 23 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
The meeting with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) will allow for a wide discussion on a range of regional issues, including the ongoing conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, and joint efforts to combat the expansion of terrorist groups, such as the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and al Qaeda, while setting a path for continued political and humanitarian cooperation. The GCC Strategic Dialogue will be followed by bilateral discussions with the Minister’s counterparts from the Gulf, including from Saudi Arabia, as well as other senior government representatives and members of civil society.
Minister Dion will then go to Cairo, Egypt, from May 25 to 26, where he will meet with President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and other senior officials. They will speak about economic security and political developments in Egypt and the region. There will also be discussions related to the investigations on the tragic events surrounding EgyptAir’s flight MS804.
Human rights will be top of mind throughout Minister Dion’s visit to the region as he makes the case that the crucial regional stability and the global security that all countries seek must be in lockstep with advances in the protection and promotion of human rights. To that end, Minister Dion will also meet with youth, women’s and human rights groups in addition to meeting with government representatives.
Omar Alghabra, Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs (Consular Affairs), will also join Minister Dion on his trip and meet with counterparts.
Minister Dion’s visit to the region follows his discussions at the ISSG in Vienna, Austria, and his participation in the Meetings of NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs in Brussels, Belgium.
“Building on discussions at the International Syria Support Group meeting in Vienna earlier this week, I am engaging my counterparts on critical issues related to stability, security, human rights and the prospects for peace throughout the region.”
– Stéphane Dion, Minister of Foreign Affairs
Established in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, in May 1981, the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, known as the Gulf Cooperation Council, is a regional intergovernmental political and economic union comprising Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Since its 2011 Jasmine Revolution, Tunisia is the only Arab Spring country that remains committed to a wholly democratic path. Canada strongly supports Tunisia’s democratic and pluralist model, and is providing counter-terrorism capacity-building assistance to help Tunisia combat growing terrorist and regional security threats.
Since the fall of the Qadhafi regime in 2011, the situation in Libya has remained unstable. The international community is now assisting the newly established Government of National Accord to end internal conflict, restore economic health, confront ISIL and curtail the highly dangerous departure of migrants across the Mediterranean.
Through Global Affairs Canada’s Counter-Terrorism Capacity Building Program, Canada is supporting Egypt in its work to strengthen asset declaration to prevent conflict of interest, as well as Egyptian efforts to enhance legislation and skills to limit the movement of foreign terrorist fighters.
Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Department of Foreign Affairs Canada.
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