Catholicos Aram I Meets Canada’s Foreign Minister

OTTAWA–Along with his pontifical delegation–His Holiness Aram I–Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia arrived in the Canadian capital of Ottawa Monday.

The Pontiff and his entourage were greeted at the airport by several dignitaries and officials–including Armenian-Canadian parliamentarian Sarkis Asatourian and Lebanese Ambassador Kasem Jaber.

As reported earlier–the Catholicos held several meetings with high-level officials of the Canadian government–including Premier Jean Chretien.

Following his meeting with Chretien–His Holiness met with Canada’s Governor General–with who he discussed issues of concern to the Armenian nation–including the Karabakh conflict and the rights of the Armenia’s in the region–as well as a number of issues surrounding the Middle East peace process

That afternoon–Asatourian hosted a luncheon in honor of Aram I–at the Ottawa Parliament House. Attendees included Jaber–and Armenian Ambassador Levon Barghoudarian–Eastern and Canada Prelate Archbishop Mesrob Ashjian–Vicar General Rev. Khoren Doghramjian–Armenian Revolutionary Federation Bureau member Vicken Hovsepian–as well as Executive Council representatives and community members.

Both Asatourian and Aram I delivered speeches at the gathering–each praising the work of the Canadian government and noting the close relations of the Armenian community and the Canadian government.

On the same day–the Catholicos attended a session of the parliament–after which he met with the Speaker of the Parliament. In his discussions–Aram I expressed his profound praise for the Canadian government’s treatment of its Armenian community. The speakers also emphasized the need to revive and continue to strengthen Armenian-Canadian cooperation and ties.

Aram I presented an English-language book on Armenian culture to the parliament speaker.

The next stop for Aram I and his entourage was the Foreign Ministry–where the Pontiff met with the Canadian foreign minister to discuss the Middle East and Karabakh peace processes.

The Catholicos focused on the foreign minister’s upcoming visit on Nov. 13 to Lebanon–on a tour of Middle Eastern states. His Holiness presented the official with a publication on the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.

The Lebanese Ambassador–in honor of Catholicos Aram I–hosted a banquet at his residence in the evening–with the participation of the leaders of various other faiths–prominent Lebanese figures–the Armenian Ambassador–as well as community members.

The Ambassador–speaking on behalf of the Lebanese nation–thanked the Catholicos for his efforts in regards to the Lebanese cause–in national and international forums and circles.

In his address–Aram I thanked the Lebanese Ambassador for his representation of the Armenian community of Lebanon–emphasizing that communities reality as being a second Armenia outside of the homeland.

The Catholicos–accompanied by his entourage–visited the Armenian Embassy on Tuesday–where he was greeted warmly. The Ambassador noted the importance of the Catholicos’ visits with high-level officials of the Canadian government. In turn the Catholicos expressed his joy at being in the Armenian Embassy calling it a home for all Armenia’s.

He encouraged the Canadian-Armenian community to become active members of community life–and be ready to offer their assistance in all aspects Armenian life.

Upon the conclusion of the luncheon hosted in His Holiness’ honor–the Catholicos left for Montreal where he will remain for the last leg of his pontifical visit.

Chretien–on Monday evening–during a television program–mentioned his meeting with Aram I–calling it an important and interesting discussion.

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