Peres Touts Israeli-Canadian Relations in Ottawa
Canadian Governor-General David Johnston welcomed President Shimon Peres to Canada on Monday.
The two men followed protocol by reviewing the ceremonial honor guard that greeted Peres with a 21 gun salute and issuing joint statements, before holding a working meeting.
"I thank you for your invitation to visit your special country," Peres said, speaking in French. "I carry with me Jerusalem's deep gratitude to Ottawa for the enduring friendship that you showed us as close kin in the family of nations."
Later, Peres said, "I visited Canada for the first time 60 years ago in search of a means to defend our country, and for friendship, and to open the doors of peace. I found these here, in Canada."
"Ever since, I have carried in my heart the feeling that Canada is land which is friendly, supporting, and caring towards Israel. I have never felt Canada is indifferent," he explained.
Peres added, "A visit to Canada is an opportunity to strengthen a very special relationship. Relations between countries are important and promising, as well as our commitment to ensure we live in days of peace, prosperity and growth."
As Governor-General in Canada, Johnston fills a role as Ottawa’s federal vice regal representative of Canada's monarch, Queen Elizabeth II.
His role is similar to that performed by Peres in Israel, but he also executes the constitutional duties of monarch in Canada, which remains a part of the British Commonwealth.
Johnston was appointed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper with Queen Elizabeth II's consent.
Later, Peres is expected to hold a private working meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Afterward, he will attend an official lunch in honor of his visit with government ministers at the Canadian Parliament.
He is expected to discuss political issues including recent developments in the Iranian nuclear program, changes in the Middle East, and political relations between Israel and its neighbors.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government has been highly supportive of Israel in the international arena.