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PRESS CONFERENCE BY PRIME MINISTER OF CANADA

Department of Public Information . News and Media Division . New York

16 September 2005

Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin said today that he had had “a very good discussion” with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel following an announcement yesterday that his Government had granted an additional $24.5 million to the Palestinian Authority for capacity-building programmes within its jurisdiction.

“I congratulated him on the withdrawal from the Gaza, both the decision taken, and the success with which the withdrawal took place”, Mr. Martin said at a Headquarters press conference this afternoon. “At the same time, we discussed the need to support the Palestinian Authority, and Prime Minister Sharon congratulated us on our announcement yesterday in which we said that we were going to continue in terms of help for the judiciary, housing, and a wide range of other areas within the Palestinian Authority.”

Speaking on the heels of his address to the General Assembly, he gave an overview of his activities during the week, saying he had met with heads of Government from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), with which his country had a “special relationship”. The discussions covered, among other things, Canada’s advocacy for the Caribbean. During a meeting with Gérard Latortue, Interim Prime Minister of Haiti, they had discussed the need for CARICOM to embark on the question of that country’s reconstruction and the forthcoming elections there. Mr. Martin had also met with President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, which currently holds the African Union presidency. They had discussed the situation in Darfur, which was of great concern to Canada.

Reiterating his call at a press conference yesterday, for the establishment of an “L-20” group of leaders along the lines of the Group of 20 (G-20) finance ministers, he said such an action was inevitable. “It has to take place. I believe, ultimately, that it is going to be an essential mechanism to the world being able to deal with its problems.”

[The G-20 is a group of developing countries established on 20 August 2003, in the final stages of preparations for the Fifth Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO), held in Cancun, Mexico, from 10 to 14 September 2003. Its focus is on agriculture, the central issue of the Doha Development Agenda.]

Asked whether he had suggested in his speech to the General Assembly that the creation of a Peacebuilding Commission would not occur, he said Member States had come “very, very close” to being able to announce not simply support for the Commission, but also the elements required to make it work. While that had failed at the last minute, it was to be hoped that over the next year, the work of ambassadors at the United Nations would enable States to pick up where they had fallen short.

When asked his response to critics who accused him of engaging in empty rhetoric by calling for more aid while Canada was yet to commit to the official development assistance (ODA) target of 0.7 per cent of gross national product (GNP), he pointed out his commitment to increased aid to the Palestinian Authority and the Canadian Government’s having taken the lead in contributing close to $190 million for Darfur.

In response to another question, regarding how Canada would reach the 0.7 per cent ODA target, he said he was committed to meeting it and would do so in such a way that the country’s progress could be measured.

Responding to a question from an Iranian news agency correspondent as to whether remaining silent on Israel’s nuclear arsenal was constructive, the Prime Minister acknowledged that current relations between Canada and Iran were tense, but pointed out that his country could have become a nuclear Power a long time ago, but had clearly wished to set an example in nuclear non-proliferation. Iran should make it very clear that its only interest was in peaceful uses of nuclear energy, which it had not done thus far.

Asked if leaders of the rich nations would go back to “business as usual” after the Summit, he said that while Member States had fallen short, as far as the Millennium Development Goals were concerned, their importance had been reaffirmed, which was significant for developing countries.

In response to a question on how long Canada would continue supporting the United Nations and its reform, Mr. Martin said that while there were clearly other multilateral institutions that had come into being, the fact remained that there had to be a place where debate took place and where resolutions were passed. If the United Nations did not exist, it would have to be created.

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For information media • not an official record



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