Canada and Qatar clash over reference to Palestine

Canadian officials refuse to sign off on joint statement mentioning 'Palestinian issue'

Friction between Canada and the Arab world continues to heat up. Most recently, Qatari officials publicly lambasted Canada for refusing to include a Palestine reference in the final statement of a three-day summit between the G8 and Arab countries last week. Canadian officials were in Doha for the Broader Middle East and North Africa Initiative, a multilateral program aimed at “enhancing an open and inclusive dialogue between governments and civil society on issues of political and economic reform and human development” in order to create partnerships and foster open dialogue to advance the progress and development of the region, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. The Initiative’s main event is a Forum of the Future, which aims to bring together about 20 countries from the North Africa and the Middle East region, G8 members and hundreds of representatives from civil society and business groups. On Jan. 13, Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon co-chaired the 7th Forum of the Future. However, a joint statement wasn’t released because, according to the state-run Qatar News Agency, Canada “insisted that the statement should exclude a paragraph on the Palestinian issue.” Canadian officials have said negotiations are still ongoing, but this adds to tensions between Canada and the region, which have been mounting because of the country’s dispute with the United Arab Emirates and its pro-Israel policies.

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