27 MAY 2013
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Reuters reports that Qatar has dropped a bid to move the headquarters of ICAO, the UN designated technical civil aviation authority from Montreal to Doha (See BTN 6 May).
Last month Qatar proposed that the organisation leave Montreal, where it has been based since it was created in 1947.
"Pleased to confirm Qatar has withdrawn its bid to move ICAO HQ from Montreal", Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird said on Twitter.
Losing ICAO would have been a diplomatic embarrassment for Canada and Baird had campaigned hard against the idea.
ICAO spokesman Anthony Philbin said that the Qatari Embassy in Ottawa had sent a letter late on Thursday announcing it was withdrawing the bid. He said the letter gave no reasons.
The French-language La Presse newspaper said Qatar had argued that Montreal – in the eastern province of Quebec – was too far from Europe and Asia and suffered cold winters.
La Presse, citing Qatari briefing notes, said that the wealthy Gulf state also complained Canada made it hard for delegates to get visas and said Canadian taxes were too high.
Whether this setback for the tiny Gulf state (ethnic population cira 250,000) has any effect regarding the FIFA World Cup in 2022 remains to be seen. www.icao.int
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