Thu. Dec 8th, 2022

The Liberal government’s long-promised Indo-Pacific strategy will include new investments to strengthen the role the Canadian Armed Forces play in the region, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday in Thailand.

“This will support our allies, Japan and South Korea, and all of us in the Pacific,” Trudeau said Friday as he wrapped up his participation in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.

The gathering was overshadowed by the news that North Korea had launched a ballistic missile that landed near Japanese waters.

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“This is completely unacceptable and must not continue,” Trudeau told reporters at a news conference in Bangkok.

The United States called an impromptu meeting with the leaders of Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, hosted by US Vice President Kamala Harris.

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Trudeau told his five colleagues that Canada would continue its role in the United Nations mission, called Operation Neon, to monitor sanctions against North Korea.

“Canada joins our allies in condemning in the strongest terms North Korea’s continued, irresponsible actions,” he said.

Click to play video: 'G20: Canada Announces $750 Million for Indo-Pacific Infrastructure Projects'

G20: Canada announces $750 million for infrastructure projects in the Indo-Pacific

Trudeau said the repeated missile launches “should be condemned by everyone, in the region and around the world.”

Canada’s participation in the APEC meeting ended with a pledge of nearly $183 million in new funding over five years to strengthen ties with the region, part of an Indo-Pacific strategy that the Liberals are finally starting to implement.

This includes $92.5 million to create approximately 60 new jobs, both in Canadian missions in the region and within Global Affairs Canada.

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“This will increase Canada’s presence here on the ground (and) deepen diplomatic ties to build and maintain the important relationships we are creating,” International Trade Minister Mary Ng said Friday.

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Conservatives demand details on ‘Beijing meddling’ in election after Trudeau-Xi G20 meeting

There is also $45 million for trade missions and about $32 million to establish Canada’s first agricultural office.

Before Trudeau was pulled aside to discuss North Korea’s move with other leaders, he announced that Ottawa would spend $13.5 million to launch a team in Canada and Asia to form energy partnerships.

The announcement did not name specific products, but likely includes Canada selling more natural gas and buying green technology equipment.

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Trudeau arrives in Thailand for APEC with Indo-Pacific trade in focus

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“The need for clean energy and green infrastructure is also growing at a rapid pace here in the Indo-Pacific,” Trudeau said in his opening remarks at a news conference before taking questions from reporters.

“As the world moves towards net-zero, there is enormous potential to grow our ties in the natural resources sector.”

While Trudeau has previously talked about expanding natural gas exports to Japan and Korea, his office said he also wants to trade natural resources with India, Australia, Indonesia, Singapore and Taiwan.

The new funding is part of an Indo-Pacific strategy that the Liberals have begun gradually implementing, after years of promising it.

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Trudeau on the tense moment with Chinese President Xi at the G20: “Not every conversation will be easy”

In other meetings, the Prime Minister’s Office said Trudeau called out Russia’s war with Ukraine and emphasized the importance of the World Trade Organization in upholding trade rules.

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During the leaders’ session, Trudeau sat between the heads of government of Brunei and Chile, who were arranged alphabetically by each country’s English name. This may have avoided another awkward meeting between Trudeau and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

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Xi was filmed on Wednesday accusing Trudeau of damaging diplomatic relations by sharing details of the previous meeting with the media.

Trudeau also lunched with the leaders of APEC’s 21 members, plus guests invited by the Thai government, including Saudi Arabia’s Prime Minister, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Trudeau told reporters he raised the human rights record in Saudi Arabia and that Canada must work with countries of “diverse backgrounds” to make progress on issues such as climate change or the economy.

“In every conversation with every leader, I make sure to bring up our human rights concerns and issues that need to be highlighted to Canadians. That’s exactly what I did,” he said.

Macron also attended the lunch as a non-APEC guest, while Thailand invited Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

The Associated Press reported that the Cambodian leader, however, canceled a visit to Thailand and left the G20 summit in Bali early after testing positive for COVID-19.

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