Trade, innovation focus of Israeli president's visit to Canada

Israeli president Shimon Peres will be arriving in Ottawa late Sunday for his first official state visit to Canada where he will be greeted by Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird.

A spokesperson for Baird tells CBC News, the Israeli president's visit "comes at a time when relations between Israel and Canada are strong and getting stronger."

Peres, a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, will be in Canada for a five-day state visit which will include stops in Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal.

The purpose of the visit will be to promote greater collaboration between Canada and Israel with respect to trade and innovation, particularly in the areas of science and technology.

“I look forward to welcoming President Peres to Canada. He has played an eminent role in the history of the State of Israel," said Gov. Gen. David Johnston in a statement ahead of the Israeli president's arrival.

"I will take this special opportunity to discuss with him how we can strengthen research and educational collaboration between our countries,” said the Governor General.

Peres is expected to meet with Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Monday before attending a state dinner hosted by the Governor General at Rideau Hall Monday evening.

On Tuesday, Peres and the Governor General are expected to talk about innovation and education before a Memorandum of Understanding is signed between the Royal Society of Canada and the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities.

The Israeli President will also meet privately with the leader of the Official Opposition Thomas Mulcair and interim Liberal leader Bob Rae.

In the evening, Peres will give a "major" speech at a reception to celebrate 64 years of Israel’s independence hosted by the Embassy of Israel in Canada at the National Gallery in Ottawa.

On Wednesday, Peres will travel to Toronto where he will meet with Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, attend a roundtable discussion on brain research, and take part in a public event hosted by David Frum and organized by the United Jewish Appeal federation of Greater Toronto.

Peres will wrap-up his state visit in Montreal on Thursday where he will meet with Quebec Premier Jean Charest and attend an event organized by the Jewish community.

Speaking at the American Jewish Congress in Washington, D.C. last Thursday, Baird said "Israel has no greater friend in the world than Canada."

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