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22:56

Quebec premier hoping trip to Israel will lead to increased economic ties

JERUSALEM – Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard says he hopes his current trip to Israel will lead to increased economic ties between the province and the Middle Eastern country.

Couillard arrived in Tel Aviv today and visited Yad Vashem, Israel’s official memorial to victims of the Holocaust.

He then headed to Jerusalem and met with Deborah Lyons, the Canadian ambassador to Israel.

Couillard is expected to meet with Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Sunday before sitting down with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday.

The goal of the mission is to increase economic and academic research ties between Quebec and Israel, which is known for its technology industry and high number of digital start-ups.

While Couillard hopes to learn from Israel’s model, he said he wants Netanyahu to get a better knowledge of what Quebec has done in the sector in recent years, particularly in the field of artificial intelligence.

“I want him to see us a potential economic partner,” Couillard said.

As it is his first trip to the region, the premier warned not to expect immediate benefits.

“We’re here to observe, to learn and, hopefully, that can lead to developments down the road,” he said.

More than 100 people, including entrepreneurs, heads of research institutes and university leaders are accompanying Couillard.

Israel is ranked 38th among Quebec’s commercial partners with annual trade between the two jurisdictions worth $345 million in 2016.

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