POLITICS

Justin Trudeau Meets With Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu For 1st Time In Paris

11/30/2015 02:02 EST | Updated 11/30/2016 05:12 EST

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with his Israeli counterpart for the first time as prime minister during a side meeting at the climate change talks in Paris Monday.

"I'm delighted to see Prime Minister Trudeau," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.

"Canada and Israel have had superb relations. There's a foundation there to make these relations even stronger. Very practical things that are of interest to both our peoples, and I look forward to having that conversation with you."

Netanyahu also invited Trudeau to come to Israel at his earliest convenience.

justin trudeau benjamin netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shakes hands with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau before a bi-lateral meeting at the United Nations climate change summit. (Photo: Adrian Wyld/CP)

"It would be a pleasure to return to Israel when it works out," Trudeau said. "But in general, this is really about starting a conversation to continue the very strong friendship and relationship between Canada and Israel.

"We have many issues to talk about, to discuss, but also many issues to collaborate on. And I look forward to continuing the strong friendship that Canada has shown towards Israel for decades and will continue in ongoing times," Trudeau said.

Stephen Harper was a staunch supporter of Israel during his tenure as prime minister, promising during a 2014 visit that Canada would stand by the Jewish state "through fire and water."

However, Harper faced some criticism for a Middle East policy that some said tilted too much toward Israel, and gave short shrift to the Palestinians.

Harper also built a very warm relationship with Netanyahu, who regularly lauded his personal friend "Stephen" as a great friend to Israel.

Past Liberal governments have had a pro-Israel foreign policy, but because of the vocal support of the Conservatives since 2006, some Israeli commentators have raised questions about whether the new Liberal government will still be as close to Israel.

Netanyahu was among the first leaders to call Trudeau after his Oct. 19 election victory.

Bilateral meetings cancelled

Trudeau was also set to meet with other leaders from Middle East, including King Abdullah of Jordan and Prime Minister Tammam Salam of Lebanon, but both those meetings were cancelled.

Salam called off his trip to Paris entirely amidst an ongoing crisis at home with al-Qaeda's affiliate in Syria, al-Nusra Front, holding 16 Lebanese soldiers hostage.

It was not immediately clear why the Jordanian leader cancelled his meeting with Trudeau.

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