QUEBEC CITY, Que. – Canada’s new role in the fight against the Islamic State will involve ensuring Jordan and Lebanon remain stable, Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion said Friday after a meeting with his U.S. and Mexican counterparts.
Dion promised that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will soon announce details of Canada’s new deployment within the American-led coalition. The Liberals promised during the election campaign to end Canada’s role in the bombing mission over Iraq and Syria.
Canada’s role won’t focus solely on Iraq, said Dion, adding “we will see what to do about Syria.”
“The two other countries we need to help to make sure they are stable, because they are so key for the region and are affected by the civil war in Syria and the situation in Iraq, and I am speaking of Jordan and Lebanon. These considerations will be in our plan.”
Dion added that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry offered suggestions about how Canada “can be more effective” in the coalition, whose members also include Britain, France and Australia.
“The goal of Canada is to redeploy our efforts in a way that is optimal,” Dion said.
Trudeau has been panned at home by the Conservatives and other critics for his plan to end Canada’s bombing mission, particularly after six Canadians were killed mid-January by a terror group linked to al-Qaida.
Kerry said he is “absolutely confident” Trudeau will ensure Canada continues to make a “significant contribution that will make a difference.”
“While they (Canada) have made a choice with respect to one particular component of that effort (the fight against ISIS), that does not reflect on the overall commitment or capacity to contribute significantly to the road ahead,” he said.
Kerry, Dion and Mexico’s Claudia Ruiz Massieu also discussed other topics, including the economy, human-trafficking and climate change.
Friday’s meeting in Quebec City sets the stage for a summit later this year featuring Trudeau, U.S. President Barack Obama and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.
The so-called Three Amigos were supposed to meet in Canada last year, but former prime minister Stephen Harper cancelled the summit.
Speaking in Spanish, Dion confirmed to reporters that Canada will eliminate the visa requirement for Mexican citizens imposed by the Conservative government, but gave no timetable.
Kerry noted that every day more than $3.5 billion worth of goods cross between the United States, Canada and Mexico.
“We have to continue to do more,” he said, “to increase investment, reduce costs for trade, business, travel and make tourism easier without jeopardizing safety.”