April 22, 2018 1:40 pm

Canada, Japan sign military pact ahead of G7 foreign ministers’ talks in Toronto

Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland (centre) sits alongside Federica Mogherini (left) High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and Shirley Ayorkor Botchway (right) Ghana's Minister of Foreign Affairs during a G7 Outreach session with non-G7 Women Foreign Ministers, in Toronto on Sunday, April 22, 2018.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
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Canada and Japan signed a military co-operation agreement ahead of Sunday’s G7 foreign ministers meeting where the North Korean nuclear crisis will be front and centre.

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Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and her Japanese counterpart Taro Kono signed an efficiency agreement Saturday night that will allow each other’s militaries to share equipment during joint exercises in Canada, Japan and elsewhere.

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Freeland and Kono met last month in Tokyo where they affirmed their commitment to keep economic and diplomatic pressure on North Korea to end its nuclear program when they meet their G7 counterparts today in Toronto.

The gathering is part of the regularly scheduled run-up ministerial meetings ahead of the G7 leaders’ June summit in Charlevoix, Que., but its timing is giving foreign ministers a chance to discuss key developments in the North Korea nuclear standoff.

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Their meeting comes days after North Korea pledged to suspend testing of its nuclear and long-range missiles and close its nuclear test site, and days ahead of this week’s historic summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae In.

U.S. President Donald Trump, who is also working on his own landmark meeting with the North Korean leader in the coming weeks, initially tweeted that Kim’s latest announcements are a sign of progress, though he tempered that assessment with a new tweet Sunday saying there is still a long way to go.

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Freeland also wants the disruptive influence of Russia and the West to be a top agenda item, and has asked Ukrainian foreign minister Pavlo Klimkin to join part of today’s talks, going so far as to host him – along with other ministers – at her home for brunch.

Freeland views the clash of the forces of democracy and authoritarianism as a defining feature of our time and she has singled out Russian President Vladimir Putin as a major disrupter.

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Later Sunday, Freeland announced that she and the European Union’s high representative for foreign affairs, Federica Mogherini, will co-host a meeting of women foreign ministers in Canada this September.

Freeland will be joined tomorrow by Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale who will lead his G7 ministerial counterparts in talks on terrorism and cyber security.

© 2018 The Canadian Press

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