17.1.03: Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham today called in Lebanese Ambassador Raymond Baaklini, regarding the Ambassador's comments in the media. After the meeting Mr. Graham released the following statement:
"The Ambassador and I had a full discussion. I explained to him that some of the language he used was not acceptable in Canada. He said that he regretted that his comments had caused offence and controversy and has written to me to that effect. "Canada has a large and important community of Lebanese origin. Canada and Lebanon have a close and friendly relationship that embraces political, cultural, economic and people-to-people ties. We work together to address any and all problems promptly and constructively. "I am confident that the Ambassador fully understands our position. I now consider the matter closed."

Foreign Affairs News
Subject: N. Release  - Graham - Meeting with Lebanese Ambassador
Ambassador Baaklini's letter is attached.
For further information, media representatives may contact: Isabelle Savard Director of Communications Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs > (613) 995-1851 Media Relations Office Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
(613) 995-1874

Letter from Lebanese Ambassador*
Ottawa - January 16, 2003
Dear Mr. Minister:
I have the honour to write to you to confirm what I said to you during our conversation this morning. You explained to me the concerns of the Canadian authorities about the interview that I gave to Sada al-Machrek of Montreal. Like Canada, Lebanon is a multicultural country of very diverse traditions that respects Judaism, as it does Islam and Christianity, as a part of our culture. It was not my intention to criticize the police in Canada because I am convinced > that they respect the diversity of Canada's communities. I regret that my comments caused offence and that they created a controversy. Please accept, Mr. Minister, the assurances of my highest consideration and my personal regards.
Raymond Baaklini Ambassador from Lebanon
*Unofficial courtesy translation from the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade