Prime Minister Stephen Harper may be skipping the United Nations on his trip to New York to accept a statesmanship award Thursday, but he has lined up several diplomatic meetings.
Mr. Harper will meet with Haitian President Michel Martelly and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday, before talking with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday.
Named World Statesman of the Year for 2012 by the Appeal of Conscience Foundation, Mr. Harper – like other prime ministers – was offered the chance to address the UN General Assembly on Thursday, but he declined. Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird will speak for Canada instead. However Mr. Baird is relegated to the following week because he is only a minister.
The international organization presenting Mr. Harper with a statesmanship award was co-founded by New York rabbi Arthur Schneier. The Prime Minister joins a list of past recipients that includes Jean Chrétien, Nicolas Sarkozy, Angela Merkel and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak. Former U.S. secretary of state Henry Kissinger will present the award to Mr. Harper.
The Prime Minister has only addressed the General Assembly twice in his nearly seven years in power. The last time was in 2010, when he was campaigning for Canada to obtain a seat on the UN Security Council for 2011 and 2012.