U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to visit Canada at a tense time for the world
Blinken and Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly will discuss ongoing chaos in Haiti during 2-day trip
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will visit Canada later this week — a trip that comes as the West grapples with a series of major geopolitical issues, such as the ongoing war in Ukraine and the deteriorating situation in Haiti.
The trip follows Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly's recent visit to Washington, D.C.
Like that September meeting, the country's top diplomats are expected to discuss the situation in Iran — where activists are demanding an end to the oppressive regime — the West's posture in the Indo-Pacific region after Chinese President Xi Jinping recently consolidated power and how best to deal with an increasingly erratic Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"Canada and the United States share one of the most productive, collaborative and important relationships in the world on bilateral and global issues," Joly said in a statement.
"Secretary Blinken's visit gives Canada another opportunity to highlight the importance of close Canada-United States co-operation on the global stage, including in the Indo-Pacific," she said.
Itinerary to include talks on Haiti, Ukraine
On Thursday, Blinken will be in Ottawa to meet with Joly and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland. He's also scheduled to visit a community centre that supports Ukrainian refugees who've fled violence in their home country.
On Friday, Blinken will travel to Montreal with Joly and, among other possible stops, visit a lithium recycling facility. Lithium is one of the key components in electric vehicle batteries. Canada has emerged as a key supplier of this and other critical minerals at a time when automakers are ramping up production of electric cars and trucks.
Both the Canadian and American statements about the diplomatic get-together mention Haiti, a country that is on the verge of collapse as street gangs consolidate power.
The poorest country in the Americas has been leaderless for more than 15 months after the last president, Jovenel Moïse, was assassinated.
Haiti's current crop of leaders have called for foreign intervention to restore a semblance of stability. Amid the anarchy, the country is grappling with water, food and fuel shortages and a resurgence of cholera.
According to the United Nations, nearly half of Haiti's 11 million people face "acute hunger," including 1.8 million at risk of a food "emergency."
In Cité Soleil, a sprawling slum in the capital, 19,000 people face a food "catastrophe."
Bloomberg reported Tuesday that U.S. President Joe Biden is considering a joint effort with neighbouring countries to aid Haiti.
The news outlet, citing unnamed sources, said the U.S. is "searching for options to quell violence, confront armed gangs, address a spiralling humanitarian crisis and respond to a cholera outbreak."
Those options could include a role for Canada and other countries from the region, Bloomberg said.