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Canadian prime minister visits Bethlehem, Ramallah

Jan. 20, 2014 11:51 A.M. (Updated: Jan. 21, 2014 10:25 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper visited Bethlehem and Ramallah on Monday as part of a four-day visit to the Holy Land.

Harper met with President Abbas in Ramallah, where he was received in an official ceremony.

Abbas and Harper inspected the honor guard as delegations from both sides met. A Canadian business delegation accompanied Harper and will meet with their Palestinian counterparts to discuss join ventures and investments, official news agency Wafa reported.

It is expected that Harper will pledge over $60 million to support the Palestinian private sector.

Earlier, Harper's visit to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem was mired in controversy as local journalists claimed that the premier's bodyguards assaulted them as they tried to cover his visit.

Cameraman Mousa al-Shaer told Ma'an that it was agreed that Harper and his entourage would enter the church first, with journalists following afterwards.

However, the Canadian premier's bodyguards prevented local journalists from entering the church and assaulted them in the process, al-Shaer said.

The Palestinian Union of Journalists said that one journalist was punched in the face and Amir Hijazi, who works for a local TV station, was hit with a metal object.

The union urged all Palestinian journalists to boycott Harper's visit to Palestine and called on the Canadian premier to issue an official apology.
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