(Communicated by the Office of the President of Israel)
President Shimon Peres today (Monday, 7 May 2012), began his state visit to Canada with a welcoming ceremony hosted by Governor-General David Johnston at the latter's Rideau Hall residence. The two inspected an honor guard, issued joint statements to the media and later held a working meeting.
President Peres spoke to Governor-General Johnston in French and told him, "I am most grateful for your kind invitation to visit your great land, the very special state of Canada. I carry with me the most profound thanks from Jerusalem to Ottawa for an uninterrupted friendship that your people have shown towards my people from the very first day of our statehood."
The President added, "I visited Canada for the first time 60 years ago; I was looking for means to defend ourselves and for friendship to open doors for peace. I met them both here. Since then I carry in my heart the feeling that Canada is a land of friendliness, displaying support and care. I sensed that Canada is always positive, never indifferent," the President said regarding the period in which there was a weapons embargo against the State of Israel in its first days and Canada's stance alongside Israel in the international arena at that time.
President Peres is welcomed by Governor-General David Johnston (Photo: GPO)
President Peres said, "A visit to Canada is for us an occasion to restate our shared nature as multicultural countries and our shared values, based on the conviction that every person was created in the image of the Lord. Our relations are great and promising as is our commitment to make our age an age of peace and prosperity."
Later, President Peres will hold a series of diplomatic meetings including a private meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, a meeting with Canadian government ministers in the framework of an official lunch that Prime Minister Harper is holding to mark the visit, and a meeting with senior Canadian administration and Parliament officials.
The President is expected to discuss a series of diplomatic issues, especially recent developments on the Iranian nuclear issue, changes in the Middle East and relations between Israel and its neighbors. Canada is among Israel closest friends and the President's visit is designed to strengthen and enhance diplomatic and economic cooperation between them, as well as express gratitude to the Canadian leadership for its stance alongside Israel.