Though on the first leg of his State visit to Canada, President Shimon Peres did not overlook the importance of Israel's relations with France of which Peres himself had been the most active and ardent architect.

Peres hastened to send a congratulatory message to newly-elected French President Francois Hollande saying that he looked forward to working with him towards strengthening the existing deep and historic ties between their two countries.

In his missive to Hollande, Peres expressed confidence that under Hollande's leadership the French people would look to the future with hope, security and in a spirit of unity.

On arrival in Ottawa, Peres and his entourage were greeted at Rideau Hall by Governor General David Johnston who welcomed them not in English or in French – but in Hebrew with a hearty "Beruchim Haba'im".

While in Ottawa, Peres will be staying at Rideau Hall which is the official residence and workplace of the Governor General.

In thanking Johnston for the invitation to visit Canada, Peres said: "I carry with me to Ottawa the deep thankfulness of Jerusalem for the ongoing friendship of our two peoples from the earliest days of the inclusion of the State of Israel among the family of nations."

Peres recalled that he first visited Canada sixty years ago in search of resources for Israel's defense; and friendship that would open the door to peace.  He had found both in Canada, he said.

Since then, he had nurtured the belief that Canada is indeed Israel's friend and supporter. He had never once thought of Canada as being indifferent to Israel's needs he said.  In this context Peres referred specifically to the manner in which Canada had stood at Israel's side, when Israel had been subjected to an arms embargo during the nascent years of the state.

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