The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Harper announces Aga Khan to visit Canada, address Parliament later this month

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OTTAWA - The Prime Minister's Office says the Aga Khan, hereditary spiritual leader of the world's 15 million Shia Ismaili Muslims, will make an official visit to Canada later this month.

The office says the Aga Khan will meet Prime Minister Stephen Harper and address Parliament during the visit.

The spiritual leader is a regular visitor to Canada, with his most recent trips coming in 2008 and 2010.

He was granted honorary Canadian citizenship during the 2010 visit.

The Aga Khan became the 49th Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims in 1957.

Harper says Canada has long had good relations with the Aga Khan and his institutions, including the Aga Khan Foundation Canada and the Aga Khan Development Network.

The foundation runs a wide range of international development initiatives, including in Afghanistan, in the areas of health, education, rural and economic development and the creation of new opportunities for women.

In October 2006 Canada announced a partnership with the Aga Khan to establish the Global Centre for Pluralism in Ottawa.

"Our country has a warm and lasting friendship with His Highness, who was granted honorary Canadian citizenship for his leadership as a champion of international development, pluralism and tolerance around the world," Harper said in a news release announcing the latest visit.

There are about 100,000 Shia Ismaili Muslims in Canada.

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