Yuval Steinitz, Israel’s minister of strategic affairs, visited Canada last week bearing a message: don’t let up on Iran. “Strong pressure will [boost] the chances for diplomacy,” said a spokesperson from the Israeli embassy in Ottawa.
Steinitz met with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird before shuttling to Washington, D.C., where he participated in “strategic dialogue” with American and Israeli defence and intelligence experts, including Vice-President Joe Biden, the embassy spokesman said.
The U.S. meetings had long been scheduled, and the side trip to meet Canadian officials “shows you how close the relations are.
“The fact he met the prime minister even briefly is a sign of the warmth of the relationship,” the embassy source said.
Israel considers Canada among its strongest allies and a respected power whose voice is heard in western capitals.
Iran is currently in talks over its nuclear program with the P5+1 group, which includes the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany. Iran wants to see crippling economic sanctions eased, while its interlocutors are concerned about its nuclear weapons program.
During his visit, Steinitz told reporters “the greater the pressure, the greater the chances for diplomacy to succeed.”
“He wants Canada to continue support to ensure that the international community maintains the sanctions and keeps strong pressure on Iran,” said the embassy spokesperson.
Any negotiated solution “has to be the right deal, where Iran does not have the capacity to create nuclear weapons,” the spokesperson said.
Following the talks with Steinitz, Foreign Affairs issued a statement saying Baird’s meeting was “to discuss the ongoing Middle East peace process, reinforce Canada’s excellent relations with Israel and discuss the situations in Syria and Iran.
“Canada’s strong and multifaceted relationship with Israel is based on shared values, common interests and strong political and social ties between the two countries.”