POLITICS

Baird to visit Saudi, Qatari counterparts for talks

03/19/2012 08:59 EDT | Updated 05/19/2012 05:12 EDT

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird will travel to the Middle East today to meet his Saudi Arabian and Qatari counterparts for talks about ongoing tensions in the region, including the Syrian conflict.

A release from Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada described the minister's upcoming two-day tour, which wraps on March 21, as a mission to "bolster relations" with Canada in the region.

On the agenda for discussions will be how to resolve the bloody uprising in Syria as well as concerns over Iran's nuclear ambitions and general security matters in the Middle East, as well as commerce.

In the Saudi capital, Riyadh, Baird will be received by Prince Saud al-Faisal bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, the Saudi foreign minister.

He will also travel to Jeddah to meet with the Saudi Human Rights Commission.

The trip to Qatar will include meetings with Prime Minister Hamad Bin Jassin Bin Jabr Al-Thani, who also serves as the country's foreign minister.

A press release from Canada's Foreign Affairs office said the meeting would give Baird the opportunity to "gauge Qatar's perspective on the situation in Syria and the broader Middle East, as well as discuss Canada-Qatar bilateral relations."

Baird's stop-over in the Qatari capital of Doha will include an inauguration ceremony for the official opening of Canada's new embassy.