US secretary of state to make first official visit to Canada

Antony Blinken to discuss Haiti crisis and other international issues with Canadian leaders, US State Department says.

Antony Blinken
The US State Department says Antony Blinken's visit to Ottawa and Montreal aims to strengthen a 'vital partnership with Canada' [File: Michael Sohn/AP Photo]

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will head to Canada this week in his first official visit to the country as the neighbours look to strengthen cooperation on regional and international issues, including the crisis in Haiti.

The Canadian and United States governments said on Wednesday that Blinken will meet with his counterpart, Melanie Joly, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during the trip to Ottawa and Montreal on Thursday and Friday.

“This visit will strengthen our vital partnership with Canada to address shared goals, including providing continued support for Ukraine, addressing the humanitarian crisis in Haiti, deepening our cooperation in the Indo-Pacific and Arctic regions, and advancing cooperation on migration and refugee resettlement in the Americas and across the world,” the US Department of State said in a statement.

The Canadian government echoed those remarks, saying Blinken and Joly will discuss “the crisis in Haiti, the situation in Iran, the Arctic, the Indo-Pacific region and continued collaboration on holding Russia accountable for its illegal invasion of Ukraine”.

Blinken will visit as the US and Mexico seek to rally international support for a United Nations Security Council proposal to send foreign armed forces to Haiti to restore security and enable the flow of “desperately needed” humanitarian aid.

Canada and the US recently sent tactical armoured vehicles to bolster the Haitian security forces, who are struggling to contain gang violence.

At a Security Council meeting last week, Haiti’s representative at the UN, Antonio Rodrigue, urged “robust support in the form of a specialised force” to help his country to deal with security challenges.

But the US-Mexico proposal to send a foreign armed force to Haiti, which has drawn opposition from Haitian civil society groups, appears to be stalling.

Citing unidentified sources, the Miami Herald newspaper reported this week that the draft resolution is on the “verge of failure after no country volunteered to contribute troops”.

But in a briefing to reporters on Wednesday, Brian Nichols, the assistant US secretary of state for western hemisphere affairs, disputed the idea that the US-Mexico resolution was “in peril”.

“I’m confident that we will have something early in November, both a resolution and leadership for the force. So I think things are moving very much on schedule,” Nichols said, as reported by the Reuters news agency.

Haiti, which has faced years of political instability, is in the middle of a deepening crisis after powerful gangs seized control of a major petrol terminal in the capital, Port-au-Prince, cutting residents and healthcare facilities off from much-needed supplies.

The UN has warned of risks of famine if the blockade persists.

The country is also struggling with a cholera outbreak made worse by continuing political and economic upheaval.

Beyond Haiti, Canada and the US have presented a united front on various crises on the international stage, including imposing sanctions against Russia after its invasion of Ukraine.

The state department said on Wednesday that Blinken will visit a “community center that supports Ukrainian refugees” in Ottawa.

Source: Al Jazeera