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Canada’s Decision to Move Embassy Put off for Year

Prime Minister Joe Clark announced late last night that he has appointed Robert Stanfield, former leader of the governing Progressive Conservative Party, to serve as a one-man task force to study the matter of moving Canada’s embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. He said that Stanfield will take into consideration “efforts that are being made to achieve a comprehensive peace in the Middle East,” and has a one-year time limit, to complete his mission and make his recommendations to the government.

Clark made his announcement after a full day of meetings and consultations of the Prime Minister’s Residence here, first with the ambassadors of 11 Arab states, then separately with Egyptian Ambassador Hassan Fahmy and finally, late in the evening, with Israeli Ambassador Mordechai shalev for more than on hour.

Clark said that Stanfield will begin working this summer in Ottawa on all questions pertinent to relations between Canada and the Middle East Arab countries and Canada and Israel. Later in the fall he will visit the Arab countries and Israel on a good – will, fact-finding mission in order to examine, on the spot, possibilities of developing cultural, economic and political relations between all the countries concerned and Canada, Clark said, Official circles here believe Stanfield will present his report and recommendations in April or May, 1980.

AROBS LEAVE SMILING

Clark began his announcement with the statement, “I set up a fact finding mission covering the wide range of questions we face with regard to the implementation of our promise to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.” day left his residence smiling. They told reporters they were “satisfied with the position adopted by the Canadian government.”

Shalev told reporters after meeting with Clark, that he was “very pleased to hear the Prime Ministers reiterate Canada’s policy, to move the Canadian embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. He added however, “I cannot go into the details before reporting to my government in Jerusalem. The Prime Minister stressed once again the indefectible friendship of the Canadian government and the people for the State of Israel.”

Minister of External Affairs Flora MacDonald refused last night to comment on the Prime Minister’s announcement nor would Clark himself elaborate. Abdullah Abdullah, the representative of the Arab League in Ottawa, told reporters, “Anyone who recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel goes against the resolutions of the United Nations and helps our enemy.”

LEVESQUE RAPS PROPOSAL

In Quebec City last week, Quebec Premier Rene Levesque told the National Assembly, the Quebec provincial parliament, that the proposal to move the Canadian Embassy was like “diving into-the pool without even checking for water.” He said the Quebec government was” a bit flabbergasted by Clark’s proposal which he called ” amateurish.”

Levesque later told a press conference that his government believed ” the brunt of the fallout” from the move would fall on Quebec and Quebec businessmen active in Arab countries. He said the idea of moving the embassy “is certainly not a diplomatic masterpiece.”

Statistics Canada, the government bureau, declared in its monthly report last week on Canadian foreign trade that only one percent of all Canadian exports go to Arab countries. The report said that “last year, Canada sold $718 million worth of goods to the 18 Moslem countries of the Middle East, including Egypt, Iran and Turkey,” which it described as 1,4 percent of Canada’s total exports in 1978 of $52 billion.

The bureau said that in the first three months of this year, exports to those Mideast countries fell to just one percent of all Canadian exports mainly because of a sharp drop in shipments to Iran. The report said Canada’s imports from those countries in 1978 amounted to $1.6 billion, about three percent of total Canadian imports, almost all of it in the form of crude oil imports from Saudi Arabia, Iran and Kuwait.

In the first three months of this year, according to the report, the proportion of Canadian imports from the Arab Moslem countries dropped to 2.5 percent of all Canadian imports, again mainly because of the cutoff of oil from Iran Currently Canada uses about 1.8 million barrels of crude oil daily and 1.3 million barrels is produced in Canada. Most of the imported oil comes from Venezuela but 190,00 barrels a day comes from Arab countries.

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