NEWS

Baird, Palestinian leader to discuss aid

04/06/2013 08:09 EDT | Updated 06/06/2013 05:12 EDT
Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird is in the West Bank today as he continues his 10-day tour of the Middle East.

Baird is in Ramallah knowing many Palestinians do not view him in a positive light after he went to the United Nations in New York City last November to register Canada's "no" vote when the Palestinians were seeking enhanced status at the UN General Assembly.

The Palestinians won that vote, but Canada's position is seen in the West Bank as staunchy pro-Israeli.

"One Palestinian official told me that the days are gone when Canada was an honest broker in the Middle East," CBC's Derek Stoffel reported from the West Bank.

Baird is expected to pressure the Palestinians to return to direct peace talks with Israel, part of a flurry of international activity trying to re-energize the peace process following U.S. President Barack obama's visit to the Middle East last month.

Baird will also be discussing renewing an aid package to the Palestinians. Canada's $300-million, five-year commitment expired at the end of March.

He says he'll seek assurances from Palestinian leaders that the money will be spent wisely if the aid package is renewed. He meets Saturday with Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, and then on Tuesday, he holds meetings in Jerusalem with Israeli leaders.

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