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Dr Abubaker Alqirbi arrived in Ottawa to meet with Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon. It was an historical occasion, representing the very first visit to Canada by a Yemeni Foreign Minister. However, Dr. Alqirbi stated that he felt very much at home in Canada, having previously lived in Canada for several years and even taught at Dalhousie University in Halifax.

Despite the brevity of his visit, he accomplished a great deal during his time in Ottawa. After a tour of the Embassy on Sunday, a luncheon for all Arab Ambassadors was held at the Official Residence and hosted by Ambassador Khaled Bahah followed by a dinner attended by key Canadian figures.

On January 18th, the Minister, and Ambassador Bahah attended a meeting and Press Conference with Minister Lawrence Cannon. Following this, they headed to meetings with senior officials of CIDA and then back to the Department of Foreign Affairs for a luncheon hosted by Deputy Minister Leonard Edwards and other staff.

Following the luncheon, they headed to a large reception and press conference held by the Embassy of the Republic of Yemen at the elegant Chateau Laurier Hotel. Both Press Conference and Reception were extremely well attended and Dr.Alqirbi gave a speech thanking the Canadian people for their warm reception, emphasizing that Yemen faces difficulties, but that the reality is not as gloomy as portrayed by some media reports. He cited the experience of Nexen Inc and other companies in the oil and gas industry who are expanding and doing excellent business in Yemen. The Minister acknowledged that the real challenge facing Yemen is lack of development. Without this, security and terrorism will continue to be a problem – not just for Yemen, but for the entire region. He stressed the need for international assistance in this area and suggested that a Canadian presence was essential for future commercial growth.

In closing Minister Alqirbi spoke of the great friendship that exists between our two great countries, thanking Canada for its willingness to be a partner to Yemen at this time, thus opening the door to a new page in the relationship that will benefit not just Yemen, but the entire region.

Following his speech, the Minister opened up the floor for an abundance of enthusiastic and excellent questions from the Press and audience members.

The afternoon flew by and before we knew it, the Minister bid his farewell and headed onwards on his journey to Washington to meet with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

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