Politics

Baird invited to visit West Bank

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird's office is disputing a statement by a Palestinian legislator that she and the minister talked about dates for Baird to visit the Palestinian territories.

No date set for visit, his office says

John Baird, Canada's foreign affairs minister, has been invited to visit the Palestinian territories, but the minister's office says no date has been established. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird's office is disputing a statement by a Palestinian legislator that she and the minister talked about dates for Baird to visit the Palestinian territories.

Hanan Ashrawi, a top negotiator for the Palestinians and special envoy for President Mahmoud Abbas, told host Evan Solomon on CBC's Power & Politics that she invited Baird to travel to the Palestinian territories.

"He gladly accepted, so he will be visiting relatively soon," she said.

"Hopefully even before September, so he will see first-hand what it means to build institutions under occupation and what it means to live under occupation."

But Baird's office says "timing was not discussed."

"Minister Baird had a cordial meeting with President Abbas' envoy, Ms. Ashrawi," Baird's spokesman Chris Day wrote in an email.

"She passed on President Abbas' personal invitation to visit the West Bank, which the minister acknowledged."

Baird's office refused to say whether the minister had accepted or declined the invitation, or whether he was considering visiting the West Bank.

The United Nations is set to vote in September on whether to recognize the Palestinian territories as a state. Baird has said any General Assembly vote is without meaning and that statehood would have to be negotiated peacefully with Israel.

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