Canada’s foreign affairs minister is making his first visit to the Middle East.
Maxime Bernier’s trip, which started Wednesday and will continue to Monday, will take him to Israel, the West Bank and Saudi Arabia.
Bernier is slated to meet U.S. Security Coordinator Lt.-Gen. Keith Dayton in Ramallah on Sunday, as well as Palestinian officials, including Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and Foreign Minister Riad Malki.
The following day in Tel Aviv, meetings are scheduled with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni to discuss Canadian and Israeli concerns in the Middle East.
“Our message in the region is clear,” said a statement from Bernier’s office. “We support efforts that will lead to a peaceful and comprehensive resolution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, including the creation of a Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with Israel.”
Bernier’s trip follows Canada’s pledge in December of $300 million in aid to the Palestinian Authority over the next five years as part of the global effort to help continue the Mideast peace process begun in Annapolis, Md., last November.