Jessica Murphy writing at SunNewsNetwork:
OTTAWA - Qatar has withdrawn its bid to relocate the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to the Middle East from its current location in Montreal, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird confirmed Friday.
Qatar was leading the lobbying efforts to move the United Nations body from Montreal, with reports suggesting it was a bid by some Middle Eastern countries to express their displeasure with the Canadian government's pro-Israel stance.
Canada and the ICAO had previously struck a deal in principle to keep the agency in Montreal for 20 years beginning in 2016, but the UN agency hadn't ratified the agreement at the time Qatar made its offer.
Baird and political leaders in Quebec and Montreal joined together in early May to try to keep the ICAO in Quebec.
"Pleased to confirm Qatar has withdrawn its bid to move ICAO HQ from Montreal," Baird tweeted Friday.
He also thanked Parti Quebecois Minister Jean-Francois Lisee and Montreal Mayor Michael Applebaum for the "great teamwork" in helping keep the organization in Montreal.
All three levels of government chipped in to try to maintain the ICAO's 534 jobs and $100 million in annual economic spinoffs.
Canadian work visas were made more accessible for ICAO employees, $80 million will be invested in the downtown head office and the children of diplomats will be exempted from tuition fees.
The ICAO, which sets international aviation standards and regulations, has been a fixture in Montreal since 1947 and is the only UN agency based outside of Europe and the US.