North American Foreign Ministers Meeting

Republished from state.gov.

MODERATOR: (In French.) Thank you very much. Minister of Foreign Affairs Stephane Dion will now make a statement.

FOREIGN MINISTER DION: Merci, Madam. Bonjour, mesdames et messieurs. Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Buenas tardes, senoras y senores.

(In French.)

(In English) My hometown, my — (in Spanish).

We have had important productive discussions today, and I will insist on — I think I have — six points. But we discussed a lot of other topics, but I will mention six in particular.

(In French.)

(In English) In Spanish — it would be too long with my Spanish, but I will end — (in Spanish).

(Via interpreter, in progress) — and I think that the best way to do that is to work together very closely. At the election campaign, and my party, which became the governing party — the Liberal Party — committed and proposed to our country to have an agreement on clean energy and the environment. So the first step toward reaching that objective — and I am happy to see that our friends are very interested in that — that first step is to conduct an inventory of all of the initiatives in our three countries that deal with the environment and clean energy and to submit that to our leaders when the Three Amigos summit will take place. That meeting takes place once a year, and the first thing that we want to do is to have a full inventory of all of the initiatives that exist in our three countries so that we can create that agreement on environment and clean energy.

(In English) So in order to build on the momentum that has been created in COP21 in Paris — and Mexico, United States, and Canada, as you know, have been instrumental for this agreement in Paris — we want to do our homework here in North America and we want to cooperate for that together. And we are very interested to have an agreement on the environment and clean energy. In order to go through our disagreements step by step, the next step we think it would be to have an inventory of all the meaningful initiatives we have in these three — between these three countries. So that’s the first point.

Second point, at the regional level we discussed the situation of different countries and above all we discussed how we may work together to address these situations. I will mention that especially two countries that we look at the situation and what we can do together about it.

(Via interpreter) With regard to Haiti, we have seen the delay for the second round or the second ballot, and we would like to see things go ahead as quickly and as properly as possible. So we will work together to do that.

(In English) In Haiti we will work together to support the peaceful transition of power and the OAS mission that will soon be underway. In fact, I think it’s on Sunday, in a few days.

The other country that I want to mention, but although we mentioned the situation of other countries as well, but the other country is Colombia. We will work to promote the peace process to end more than five decades of civil war.

(Via interpreter) Thirdly, we discussed the situation created by the Zika virus and we know how useful North America’s contribution has been to face such crisis in the past, and we will do it again this time. We will suggest to our colleagues, the ministers of health, to work very closely together.

(In English) So about the spread of the the Zika virus, we will draw on a strong record of working together on health crisis. We pledge that our ministers of health would work together as we have done in the past and in concert with the WHO following their meeting on Monday.

Quatrieme, fourth, cuatro — on matters of enhanced security cooperation, we had very fruitful discussions on what we can do to stop human trafficking, to fight terrorism, and to support stabilization, especially in the Middle East. I discussed with Secretary Kerry once again — it’s not the first time — but how much it’s important that the redeployment of Canada is done in consultation with our allies to be sure that the Canadian contribution to fight this awful terrorist group, the so-called Islamic State, the Canadian contribution will be optimal in the coalition. And we will also have another opportunity to look at that when both of us will be in Rome the February 2nd, a couple of days from now, for the meeting of the most involved countries in the coalition.

(Via interpreter) Fifth point — I will repeat it in French. Once again, Secretary of State Kerry and I discussed the way in which Canada can redeploy its efforts in Iraq and in the region to ensure that Canada’s contribution is optimal so that we can help our allies and the Iraqis to rid themselves of the horrible terrorist group, the so-called Islamic State. We will continue talks in Rome on February 2nd in a few days where the countries that are the most involved in the coalition will meet.

(In English) On prosperity we agreed on many things, but I will mention especially we agreed to explore opportunities to improve labor mobility and women’s empowerment and equity. We will do this together.

(Via interpreter) I’d like to draw particular attention to the strengthening of women’s empowerment in North America, because as you know that is something that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau cares about deeply and he will be very happy to work with both presidents to that end.

Finally, the visa situation between Canada and Mexico will be resolved, finished. (Laughter.) Thank you very much. (Applause.)

Claudia, por favor.

FOREIGN SECRETARY MASSIEU: (Via interpreter) Hello, ladies and gentlemen, I am very pleased to be here this afternoon for this press conference at the closing of our meeting of the foreign ministers of North America. I would like to begin by expressing my gratitude to Mr. Dion and to the Canadian Government for their hospitality. You have done a splendid job. Thank you for welcoming us here to the wonderful Carnival of Quebec City.

(In English) Thank you so much, ladies and gentlemen, for joining us this afternoon for this press conference. I would like to express my gratitude to Minister Dion and the Government of Canada for hosting this important meeting. You have all done a splendid job. We thank you for your hospitality, and it is also my pleasure to have met again with Secretary Kerry.

(Via interpreter) Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. In the course of the work today we established a joint base, a solid one that we can build on, to strengthen our ties, be they economic or trade or investment ties, and to generate new jobs. We have elements to present ourselves as a region that has competitive advantages and that has a vision of prosperity that is shared by our three countries. We have the intent and the commitment to renew our vision to make North America a more integrated region and a center for global competitiveness in the 21st century. North America will be focused on the joint struggle to fight climate change, to develop clean energy, to facilitate travel and interconnectivity, a new infrastructure, excellence in education and in security as well. We reiterate our joint commitment with the Paris commitments to face the challenge of climate change in our region. We will use the international and regional framework that already exists to define new activities that we can work on trilaterally. North America will present its vision for action to fight climate change at the next G20 meeting, including proposals on technological innovation. For that purpose each country will designate a coordinator to identify what the three countries can do to find a regional position. We foreign ministers reiterate our governments’ commitment to the trilateral framework to conserve the Monarch butterfly using specific strategies and activities in each country.

We also agreed to support the OAS mission to facilitate the electoral process in Haiti and we welcome and we also reiterate our support for the peace process in Colombia. All three countries agree that it is necessary to optimize our efforts to cooperate in Central America and the Caribbean in order to take advantage of our complementary assets or aspects and to support social and economic development in the region. In order to fulfill the mandate of the leaders to work on an agenda to generate greater prosperity in the region, we agreed that Mexico would work on a proposal to put up-to-date the list of telecomm professions so that there can be a greater movement of professionals and also to create human capital that can support the growth of competitiveness in the region in strategic sectors. We will also work to ensure more movement among academics as well. So we have taken on the commitment to present to the leaders of our country at their next meeting a roadmap to operationalize the Trusted Traveler Programs in North America.

Finally, we agreed to include on the trilateral agenda the economic empowerment of women as an additional element to increase our competitiveness. We have everything we need to make this region the most prosperous region in the world and we reiterate the political will of our three countries to reach that objective. Thank you very much.

FOREIGN MINISTER DION: (Via interpreter) Thank you very much, Claudia. That was very clear. Thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: (Via interpreter) Good evening and thank you very much. Thank you, Stephane. It was a great pleasure to be here in this beautiful city, Quebec City, the old capital, with my distinguished colleagues. As a neighbor, partner, and friend, I am proud to be here with you to reassert the lasting alliance between our three countries and to set the path toward a promising future for all of North America. I wish you all a happy Carnival.

(In English) Stephane, thank you for a very generous welcome here. It is very nice to be in a place where the weather reminds me of my hometown of Boston. (Laughter.) I look forward to working with you very, very closely, and I’ve enjoyed our several meetings already. And Claudia, likewise, we are getting to become a very productive three-person effort, and I’m very appreciative for the cooperative effort.

I know that President Obama is very excited about welcoming Prime Minister Trudeau to Washington in March. This is the first official visit of a Canadian head of government in nearly two decades — long overdue and much anticipated. I’d also like to thank Claudia for her partnership, and I just want to note for all that it is sunny and warm in Mexico City today, so not only did she have to come the farthest, but she had to adjust the most. Not everyone heads north in January, folks. Besides deers, evidently, foreign ministers do. I was really delighted to meet with both my colleagues today. I have to tell you this was one of the most comprehensive, enjoyable, and productive sessions that we’ve had. And I think we’ve set a very broad agenda for ourselves.

Before getting to that agenda, I just want to take a moment to offer my condolences and those of the American people to the families and friends of the victims of last week’s horrific shootings in Saskatchewan, and to wish a speedy and full recovery to those who were wounded. The United States knows all too well the anguish caused by senseless acts of violence, and our prayers are with you, but we also take heart from the knowledge that Canadians are a very brave and resilient people. No gunman can change that, and we are very proud to have you as friends.

At the same time, we also offer our sincere sympathies for the loss of six Canadian citizens killed in Burkina Faso at the hands of al-Qaida. It just underscores the breadth of the challenge to our security. It is global, and we all have a responsibility, obviously, to meet that challenge. I want to add how proud we were to provide shelter to a Mexican citizen who survived this heinous attack and who has now safely returned home.

We also recognize our Mexican partners’ very valiant efforts to combat violence every single day. And we commend them on their recent recapture of their nation’s most wanted narco-trafficking kingpin.

Our three countries are neighbors and allies, and we are brought together by shared borders, we are strengthened by common values, and we are united in our commitment to build a more competitive, prosperous, and secure continent. One year ago in Boston, we established the North American Caucus. We have made great strides since then in defining that caucus. We agreed today that we can actually advance this partnership even more, especially on issues of competitiveness, information sharing, security, regional and global issues like climate change — all leading up to our North American Leaders’ Summit in the spring.

I want to say that it was in the spirit of friendship that Prime Minister Trudeau in Davos last week, where I had a brief chance to say hello to him, called for, quote, “positive, ambitious leadership” to address the many complex challenges that confront us. And it was in that spirit that we met today. On security, our discussion centered on the need for a comprehensive North American approach to combat violent extremism, on organized crime, on trafficking in drugs and human beings.

We highlighted the importance of tackling these issues head-on while also addressing related questions of economic development and good governance. And we reaffirmed our desire to work closely with partners across the Americas to defend human rights and to advance democratic values and promote opportunity. We also discussed our common goal of degrading and destroying Daesh. We agreed that our mutual security interests require us to do more, and we look forward to Prime Minister Trudeau’s announcement on Canada’s contributions to the coalition.

Finally, as Stephane said, we reaffirmed the importance of holding the second round of presidential elections in Haiti as quickly as possible, and we discussed our support for the Colombian peace process — our efforts, all together, to end the longest-running civil conflict in the region. And I noted the fact that this next week, President Obama will host President Santos in Washington. I will meet with him. We will look forward to working on that process, and most importantly, also to celebrating the 15th anniversary of Plan Colombia, which I had the pleasure of working on in the Foreign Relations Committee and voting for as a senator, and which we believe has made an enormous difference to the prospects for the country of Colombia.

On energy and the environment, we hailed the historic agreement reached in Paris — an agreement to finally bring the country and the world together, 186 countries strong, all with individual plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Today, we committed our efforts as a partnership to coordinate our own clean energy initiatives, and to thereby try to maximize our ability to take three large economies — 30-plus percent of global GDP right here in our economies — with an ability to make an impact on what happens at the G20 and what happens in the next year with respect to climate change. And thereby, hopefully together, helping to translate the framework that came out of Paris into a genuine, sustainable future for all of us.

Right now, North America is at the forefront of a dramatic transformation in the energy sector. Through initiatives that we all signed on to, like Mission Innovation, we are collaborating on renewal — renewable energy development, clean technology innovations, and energy efficiency standards. And we, all of us, understand that pursuing our climate goals is not a competition of the environment or economic development; it is economic development through wise, sustainable environmental policies. And we are seeing in the United States today massive numbers of new companies coming online. One of the fastest-growing sectors of the economy, with more and more new jobs, is coming in this energy revolution.

Last year, global clean energy investment reached an all-time high, and over the next 20 years, it is estimated that $50 trillion will be spent and invested in the energy sector. So this is a great market staring at us with opportunities for all, and we need to seize it. The United States grew our investment in clean energy last year by 10 percent just in 2015, and solar industry added jobs 12 times faster than the rest of the economy. So make no mistake, our common commitment to clean energy and environmental protection is going to be an enormous economic benefit to all of us.

Finally, in building prosperity, our conversations were rooted in the understanding that our continent is increasingly integrated and increasingly dynamic. Every day, more than $3.5 billion in goods and services cross between the United States, Canada, and Mexico — all of which supports good jobs and strengthens businesses in every one of our countries. Yet to succeed in the 21st century, we all know that we have to continue to do more to increase investment, to reduce the costs of trade, to make business travel and tourism easier without jeopardizing safety, and to spur the creation of whole new industries and work together even more closely.

That is a key purpose of the recently concluded Trans-Pacific Partnership in which all three of our countries are participating. The TPP is a high-standard agreement that covers roughly 40 percent of global GDP and will enable our economies to thrive along with the fastest growing markets all along the Pacific Rim.

All of these challenges that we discussed today are critical to our individual and collective futures. And each of them demands our common action and commitment. If we do our part to meet these demands, if we exercise positive, ambitious leadership, as your prime minister has called for, I am confident that we can advance our shared vision of a safer, growing, prosperous, competitive North America. And I look forward to working with Stephane and Claudia in order to make that vision a reality. Thank you.

FOREIGN MINISTER DION: Thank you, John.

MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) We now will move on to the question period. The first question from Madeleine Blais-Morin, Radio-Canada.

QUESTION: (Via interpreter) Good afternoon. My question is for you, Mr. Dion, and Mr. Kerry. The Netherlands are increasing their strikes in Syria in the fight against the Islamic State. If you’d like, I can start again for Mr. Kerry.

So we are at a time where the Netherlands are increasing their strikes against Syria, against the Islamic State. Mr. Dion, what did you say specifically with regards to Canada’s plan which — and what will Canada’s role be in the fight against the Islamic State?

And Mr. Kerry, are you reassured? And how will the coalition feel the loss of the CF-18s when they are withdrawn? And if you could answer in French and English, please. Thank you.

FOREIGN MINISTER DION: (Via interpreter) Thank you, Ms. Blais-Morin. This isn’t the first time that the Secretary of State John Kerry and I have discussed this. We’ve worked very closely with the Obama Administration and other allies to deploy our efforts (inaudible) in order that they be complementary and optimal. You are correct — airstrikes will continue even if Canada invest its efforts in other areas that are also necessary. And soon, we will announce what these efforts will be. We have received a number of requests in particular from our American friends, and this helps us better understand how we can deploy our efforts in a complementary and optimal manner within the coalition alongside the Americans, alongside the Netherlands. We will continue our discussion on this in Rome soon, and the ministers of defense will also be meeting, I believe — actually, I think they’re meeting in Brussels under the auspices of NATO, maybe on the 11th of February. All this to say that we will continue to have close discussions. Thank you.

(In English) We had opportunities to discuss together, John and I, on this important issue, and we did it again today. And we’ll continue in Rome the — February the 2nd in the context of a meeting of the coalition. The goal for Canada is to redeploy our efforts in a way that will be optimal, very effective — more effective than today in some ways — in order to be sure that we’ll be strong in our fight against Daesh, the so-called Islamic State. And we have discussed that today. We’ll continue to do that in Rome, and we are — I’m very thankful on behalf of the government to our American friends that gave us a lot of suggestions in the way in which will be helpful and effective, more effective than ever. Americans and the people from Netherland and France and UK and Italy — all our allies are asking us to do a panoply of possibilities, and it will help us to announce contribution that will be well received. I’m quite optimistic.

SECRETARY KERRY: (Via interpreter) Well, I completely agree with what Stephane just said.

(In English) Canada and the United States are allies, friends, and Canada has played an outsize role, really, already in many different ways in both the military and the humanitarian component of the counter-Daesh struggle — battle. And I am absolutely confident from my conversation with Stephane that the prime minister and his security team are working on ways to continue the contribution and to continue to make the significant — a significant contribution to our efforts in a way that will make a difference. We have every confidence that Canada will do that. So while they may have made a choice with respect to one particular component of that effort, that does not reflect on the overall commitment or the capacity to contribute significantly to the road ahead. And we’re confident that they will.

We stand shoulder to shoulder with our NATO allies, with our EU partners, with a significant number of members of the Arab world — of the Islamic world — who are committed to this coalition. More than 65 — 65 countries strong now will be meeting, as Stephane said a moment ago — 24 of us. He didn’t mention 24, but he said we’d be meeting in Rome, and that’s 24 nations in a small group that will come together in order to talk about the road ahead. We are convinced we are making significant progress and we will make more, and I look forward, as I said in my opening statement, in the next weeks to the prime minister’s notification to us of what the plan going forward will be. But as I said, we have confidence that Canada will continue to make a significant contribution.

QUESTION: Can you repeat it in French, please? (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY KERRY: (In French.) (Laughter.)

QUESTION: The short version.

SECRETARY KERRY: (Via interpreter) No, I’m not going to repeat it all in French. She spoke well.

MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) Next question, Isabel Inclan from Notimex.

QUESTION: This is for the Honorable Claudia Ruiz. How do you feel about the trilateral relationship? And you talked about the visas. Trudeau said it was a priority for our relationship, but what do you think will happen soon? How is it dealt with? How are things moving forward?

FOREIGN SECRETARY MASSIEU: (Via interpreter) Thank you, Isabel. The trilateral relationship is in a very positive way right now. All the enthusiasm and efforts in the working sessions today was based on respect, constructive behavior. We put forward a lot of proposals. We have a vision of seeing this as a single vision by the North America. We are one single region and we would like to be the most competitive and most prosperous region of the world. And so together we are going to find areas of opportunity and ways of strengthening this competitiveness, as well as promote greater prosperity, employment, and investment in all the different sectors that everyone mentioned: cooperation, human mobility, labor mobility, academic mobility. We would like to promote and facilitate trade, the movement of goods.

We’ve also talked about common points that we have internationally, such as commitments to fight climate change. And we’ve identified areas of cooperation in our region in Central America and the Caribbean, because this will affect the competitiveness and security of the region and of North America.

With regards to visas, Minister Dion was very clear, I think he insisted on this point, and he highlighted Canada’s commitment to working towards eliminating this requirement of a visa for Mexican citizens.

FOREIGN MINISTER DION: (Via interpreter) Our prime minister, Justin Trudeau — he wants the relationship between Canada and Mexico to be a solid one. And a visa is not necessary. Our prime minister wants the visa to be eliminated.

MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) Last question: David Clark, Agence France-Presse.

QUESTION: (Via interpreter) Thank you. I have the first question in French for Mr. Dion. Now, given that you’re coming to Rome next week and given that you said you’re going to redeploy Canadian efforts against Daesh, will you be involved in Libya under the aegis of the UN, for example?

(In English) Can I put the second question in English? I’m cheating slightly — the bilingual nature of the press conference. Secretary Kerry, this afternoon the State Department was unable to release seven email chains that your predecessor sent during her period in your office because they apparently contain top secret information. Have you been able to assure your allies today, and can you assure the American people that while those emails were in Secretary Clinton’s private server, that they did not pose a risk to national security? Thank you.

FOREIGN MINISTER DION: (Via interpreter) Thank you very much for your question. We are working on a plan that will be focused on Iraq for the most part, where there’s a coalition made up of some 60-plus countries under the leadership of the U.S. Our goal is to find an optimal way of being involved and making an effort towards the coalition. We are very aware of the huge problems in Libya, and our Italian friends are working very closely on this matter. And in fact, when we’re in Rome, we will review this issue.

But I’d also like to say that our effort in Syria is one that may touch on other countries as well. Our efforts in Iraq touched on other countries. So of course we’re talking about Syria, but there are two other countries that have to remain strong as well. Those countries must not be weakened. They are affected by refugee movements and we need to help them out as much as possible, and these countries are Lebanon and Jordan. And as you know, Canada will do — make enormous effort in Iraq, but we also have to find a way to help the entire region. Perhaps I should answer in English as well.

(In English) What about Libya and Canada? Of course Canada must look at the situation when we will be in Rome. Our American friends, the Italians — they are well involved in Libya. They have strong views about what we can do. But for now, the priority for us is to be within the coalition of more than 60 countries and to get rid of this awful terrorist group in Iraq. But the plan that we will announce will not be strictly only about Iraq. We’ll see what we can do for Syria and other countries, and I mention especially two countries that we need to help to be sure that they will stay stable because they are so key for the region and they are affected by all the difficulties that are coming from the civil war in Syria and the situation in Iraq. And I’m speaking about Jordan and Lebanon. So these considerations will be within our plan.

John.

SECRETARY KERRY: (Via interpreter) I’m fascinated that you’re interested in the emails — well, not really.

(In English) The seven emails — or a few emails, at any rate — are being withheld at the request of the intelligence community itself. I can’t speak to the specifics of anything with respect to the technicalities, the contents, what may or may not have taken place with respect to the personal server, because that’s not our job. We don’t do that. We don’t know about it. It’s in other hands. Our job is simply to live up to the court requirement to release these emails according to the Freedom of Information Act requirements. And we are required to do that according to a schedule. The schedule was today, and the reason that it takes a while to do is because a large interagency process involving anybody who might have any interest whatsoever in any one of the emails has to make a judgment with respect to the classification or contents thereof. That takes time, and that is why it is happening at this moment.

And that literally is all I am able to say about them — not because I won’t, but because we don’t have any of the other information. It’s not our information. We don’t make any judgments about it. That is in other hands.

MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) I’d like to thank all of you for participating. Thank you.

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