Prime Minister Stephen Harper delivered the following remarks on the occasion of the visit to Canada from Dr. Boni Yayi, President of the Republic of Benin and Chairperson of the African Union (AU):
"Mr. President, it is a pleasure to welcome you back to Canada.
"Our meetings last year, at Camp David for the G-8 and then in Kinshasa for the Summit of the Francophonie, were opportunities to make progress on our bilateral relations.
"We also recall with pleasure your visit to Quebec City for the 2008 Summit of the Francophonie.
"And Mr. President, I would like to offer you my warm congratulations as well, for your leadership of the African Union during the past twelve months.
"You have come through a difficult year for Africa in terms of regional security.
"However, the year was also marked by great achievements, which will leave a lasting mark.
"Once again, Mr. President, your guidance and counsel and the Republic of Benin's example as a working African democracy have been vital stabilizing influences in your region.
"I would also like to note the growing number of high-level contacts between Canadian officials and those of the Republic of Benin.
"These point to growing friendship and cooperation between our two countries in both shared security interests and potential economic opportunities.
"Benin occupies a strategic position as a stable access point in a growing region of Africa where Canada is seeking to forge mutually advantageous trade ties.
"In particular, resource development holds great promise.
"More generally, there is room to expand our economic relationship, directly, and indirectly, through wider trade and investment.
"The Government of Benin is therefore to be congratulated, for the economic reforms that you have introduced.
"In that regard, I am pleased to note that - as you just saw - a Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement has been signed between Canada and Benin.
"These measures will increase investor confidence, and augur well for the growth of our two countries.
"Benin's future growth depends on a modern infrastructure and public service.
"I am therefore pleased to further announce that the Government of Canada will, through the Canadian International Development Agency, assist the Government of Benin in establishing a more efficient and equitable system of revenue collection.
"I am also pleased to note that Canada is working as well with the African Union, including Benin, to establish the African Mineral Development Centre.
"President Boni Yayi and I also discussed the complex situation in Mali, and my congratulations to you, Mr. President, on the role that the African Union has been playing to try and stabilize that situation.
"Once again, welcome to Canada, and may friendship between our two peoples bring lasting prosperity for all us.