Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister, John Baird (pictured), issued the following statement on Monday:
“Today’s opening is a historic milestone in Canadian relations with Iraq and comes at a pivotal moment. Ten years after the Iraqi intervention, Iraq is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, despite deep and lingering sectarian tensions.
“With conflict raging in neighbouring Syria, with the Ayatollah [Ali Khamenei]’s regime relentlessly pursuing sectarian hegemony and nuclear ambitions, and with a NATO ally and economic partner bordering Iraq’s north, today’s opening here in Baghdad expresses Canada’s intention to expand our engagement with a key regional player.
“We know that security and prosperity are intrinsically linked, especially for those many Iraqis who have only ever known lives of war and strife. Iraq is situated at the intersection of intrinsic international security challenges that affect us all. At this intersection also rests a principal fault line between Sunni, Shia and Kurdish identities, historically mired in sectarian conflict but with the potential of one day becoming a multi-confessional, pluralist society at peace with its neighbours, one where Muslims, Christians and other religious and ethnic groups will live in security and social harmony.
“Canada’s trade and investment interests in Iraq have strong potential, including in the country’s north, where we will expand our dialogue with leaders in Erbil. To pursue our interests, we know that Canada needs to be on the ground in Baghdad.”
The new mission in Baghdad, an office of Canada’s Embassy to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the Republic of Iraq in Amman, will be headed by a chargé d’affaires, Stephanie Duhaime. The mission will be co-located in the British Embassy Baghdad, consistent with the agreement signed last fall by Baird and U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague. Canada’s ambassador to Iraq will continue to be based in Jordan, and will continue to oversee the bilateral relationship at the strategic level.
(Source: Canadian Ministry of Foreign Affairs)