Citizenship and Immigration Canada

Citizenship and Immigration Canada

May 26, 2009 15:40 ET

Minister Kenney Wraps Up Official Trip to the Middle East

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - May 26, 2009) - Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney has concluded a nine-day visit to the Middle East, where he met with senior government officials and important community and religious leaders and visited prominent religious and memorial sites in Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, and Israel.

In Lebanon, Minister Kenney met with President Michel Suleiman, Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, Foreign Affairs Minister Fawzi Salloukh, and Speaker of the Parliament Nabih Berri. Minister Kenney also met several religious leaders, visited the monument honouring former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, held a press conference to discuss expanded service at the Canadian visa office in Beirut, and announced federal funding for continuing electoral reform in Lebanon on behalf of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

"Canada has taken important steps to support electoral reform in Lebanon," said Minister Kenney. "We are pleased that our government expanded visa services in our Beirut mission."

In Syria, Minister Kenney met with religious leaders and visited the Omayad Mosque. He also visited the Douma Refugee Registration Centre and met with Iraqi refugees destined shortly for Canada. He also reviewed the operations of Citizenship and Immigration Canada's (CIC) regional processing centre in Damascus.

"I was proud to meet with important leaders from different religious and minority communities in Syria. I was also happy to discuss what our Government is doing, through Canada's visa office in Damascus, to increase the number of Iraqi refugees Canada accepts," added Minister Kenney.

In Egypt, Minister Kenney met with key civil leaders, including Coptic Pope Shenouda III and Sheikh Mohamed Sayed Tantawi, religious leaders and important Egyptian business persons, and made a funding announcement on behalf of CIDA for ENACT - Enhancing Arab Capacity for Trade.

"I was proud to announce important funding in Egypt on increasing the capacity for trade in the Middle East and North Africa. I also had the opportunity to meet with important religious leaders from Egypt's different communities."

In Israel, Minister Kenney met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Immigration and Absorption Minister Sofa Landver and other Israeli officials. He also visited the Mevasseret Zion Absorption Centre, a settlement centre for Ethiopian immigrants. Minister Kenney visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum and the Ruppin Academic Centre, and attended a reception at the Official Residence to mark the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Canada and Israel.

"In Israel, I had the opportunity to discuss what our Government is doing to combat anti-Semitism, including being the first country in the world to withdraw from the Durban Review Conference. I also had the opportunity to discuss how Canada and Israel can learn from each others' programs of immigration and integration," said Minister Kenney.

For photos of the Minister's trip, visit CIC's website at www.cic.gc.ca.

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