Canada joins US-backed Pacific group to strengthen ties with island nations According to Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO – Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly speaks during a tripartite meeting with her U.S. and Mexican counterparts at the Ninth Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles, California, U.S., June 10, 2022. REUTERS / Lucy Nicholson

By Steve Scherer

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada is joining a group to promote economic ties with Pacific island nations including the United States, Australia, Japan, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, according to a draft of the ministry’s speech. Secretary of State Melanie Joly will speak on Thursday.

Joly will tell diplomats at the United Nations General Assembly in New York: “We are pleased to be participating in the early discussions to help build this initiative and I am pleased to announce Canada will Join as a full member. A draft of her speech was viewed by Reuters.

“Canadians will be affected by the decisions being made in the Indo-Pacific region and we want to be at the table,” Joly is scheduled to say at an event hosted by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. , said a source familiar with the matter.

The United States formed an informal group called Partnership in the Blue Pacific in June to strengthen economic ties between the Pacific islands and the rest of the world. Competition between the US and China for influence in the Pacific islands intensified this year after China signed a security deal with the Solomon Islands, prompting warnings of militarization of the region. this.

Joining the group is an “important step” for Canada as it drafts a new strategy for the Indo-Pacific region, the source said, requesting anonymity.

Tensions between Canada and China have been running high for years. In May, Ottawa banned the use of 5G equipment from China’s Huawei Technologies Co due to national security concerns.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delayed Huawei’s decision in 2019 because he did not want to move until the fate of Canadians detained on allegations of espionage in China became clearer.

After Canada arrested Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in 2018, Beijing arrested two Canadians on charges of espionage. The stalemate ended in September 2021 when all three were released after US prosecutors reached an agreement with Meng.

These tensions have prompted the government to begin implementing an Indo-Pacific strategy to engage with China on trade and climate change, while competing in other areas such as vital minerals and confront China on human rights issues.

“Canada also plans to announce a new Indo-Pacific Strategy soon,” Joly’s draft speech read.

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