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Baird meets king of Jordan Sunday

The ongoing turmoil in Syria will be a major of topic of discussion when Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird meets with Jordan's king on Sunday.

Baird is due to meet with King Abdullah on Sunday afternoon after talks with Jordan's foreign minister earlier in the day.

Jordan has taken in more than a quarter of a million Syrian refugees and Canada is providing $11.5 million to help Jordanian officials handle the influx.

Government sources say in addition to Syria, Baird will talk about increased political and economic cooperation between the two countries and likely the Middle East peace process.

Canada signed a Free Trade Agreement with Jordan last fall.

After his meetings in Jordan, Baird will visit several other countries including the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Cyprus and Israel.

He also plans to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad where aid to the Palestinians will be a major topic.

Canada's five year $300 million commitment expires Sunday and Baird has made no promises to renew the aid.

The Harper government has been troubled by the Palestinians winning a historic UN General Assembly vote in November granting status to the Palestinians as a non-member observer state.

The Harper government is a staunch supporter of Israel, and Canada was one of nine countries in the 194-nation assembly that voted against the Palestinian statehood bid.

Baird was among those who expressed concerns the Palestinians would use their new status to file war crimes charges against Israel in the International Criminal Court.

The Canadian Press


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