IDF Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, will depart tonight (Saturday) for an official week-long work visit in Canada and the United States.
Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi is scheduled to conduct a series of work meetings with various defense and military officials, regarding mutual defense challenges, cooperation between the militaries and security assessments of the Middle East.
During his visit to Canada, Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi will be hosted by his counterpart, Chief of the Defense Staff of the Canadian Forces, General (****) Walter Natynczyk, who visited Israel in October 2009 and invited the IDF Chief of Staff to visit Canada. General and Mrs. Natynczyk will host Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi and his wife at an official dinner in Ottawa. The Chief of Staff is also scheduled to meet the Canadian Minister of National Defense, Mr. Peter MacKay, Israel’s Ambassador to Canada, Mrs. Miriam Ziv and leaders of the Jewish community in Toronto. In addition, Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi is scheduled to visit a base of Canadian forces who fought in Afghanistan and to meet with officials in the Canadian General Staff. Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi will also visit the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, where he will lay a wreath for the fallen soldiers.
Later on in the week, Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi will visit Washington DC, where he will meet with his American counterpart, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen.
Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi will hold a series of meetings with senior American officials, including the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Dr. Michele Flournoy, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Mr. Howard Berman, and Senators John Kerry and Joe Lieberman.
To conclude his visit, Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi will travel to New York, where he will meet with several public diplomacy organizations, leaders of major American Jewish organizations and other senior officials.
Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi will also conduct briefings for senior members of the Canadian and US press.
Deputy IDF Chief of the General Staff, Maj. Gen. Benny Gantz, will assume Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi’s responsibilities during his absence.
Accompanying Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi are his wife, Ronit, the IDF Military Attaché to Washington, Maj. Gen. Gadi Shamni, IDF Spokesperson, Brig. Gen. Avi Benayahu, Head of the International Military Cooperation Department, Col. Hanny Caspi and Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi’s Aide-de-Camp, Lt. Col. Amos Ha’Cohen.