Canadian, Italian PMs' soiree scrapped amid pro-Palestinian protest

Canadian, Italian PMs' soiree scrapped amid pro-Palestinian protest

A soiree to be attended by the prime ministers of Canada and Italy on Saturday in Toronto was cancelled over "security concerns", the Canadian leader's office said, as pro-Palestinian protesters picketed the venue.

Palestine destruction May 2021
Photo: Twitter/ShebabAgency

Hundreds of pro-Palestinian demonstrators had gathered in front of the Art Gallery of Ontario, where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was due to host his Italian counterpart Giorgia Meloni, according to Canadian media reports.

"Due to security concerns, the event was cancelled," Jenna Ghassabeh, a spokesperson for the Canadian prime minister's office, told AFP without giving further details.

Meloni, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the Group of Seven (G7) nations, is visiting Canada ahead of a leaders' summit in Italy in June.

Earlier in the day, the two leaders held talks where they discussed what Meloni described as a "very difficult Middle East crisis".

According to Canadian public broadcaster CBC, protesters opposed to Canada's response to the Israel-Hamas war blocked access to the venue.

ALSO READ: War spurs anger over Israel military exemption for ultra-Orthodox

Between 200 and 300 demonstrators took part in the protest, according to the CBC.

Videos and photos circulating on social media showed a heavy police presence near the gallery.

The unprecedented October 7 attack by Hamas on southern Israel resulted in the deaths of around 1,160 people, according to an AFP tally of official figures.

Israel responded with a relentless assault on Hamas-controlled Gaza that has taken a devastating toll on civilians trapped there, killing at least 30,320 people, according to the territory's health ministry.

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