Canadian military to play stronger role in Indo-Pacific region: Trudeau

Click to play video: 'Canadian military to play stronger role in Indo-Pacific region: Trudeau'
Canadian military to play stronger role in Indo-Pacific region: Trudeau
WATCH: As the APEC summit wrapped up in Bangkok, Thailand, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday that the Canadian military would be a stronger role in the Indo-Pacific region. Trudeau said that would include stepping up defence investments in the region – Nov 18, 2022

The Liberal government’s long-promised Indo-Pacific strategy will include new investments to strengthen the role the Canadian Armed Forces plays 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 had been sidetracked 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, hosting by U.S. Vice-President Kamala Harris.

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

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

Click to play video: 'G20: Canada announces $750 million for infrastructure projects in Indo-pacific'
G20: Canada announces $750 million for infrastructure projects in Indo-pacific

Trudeau said the repeated missile launches “need to be condemned by all, in the region and around the world.”

Canada’s participation in the APEC gathering ended with a pledge of nearly $183 million in new funding over five years to strengthen ties to the region, part of the Indo-Pacific strategy the Liberals have finally started rolling out.

That includes $92.5 million to create about 60 new jobs, both at Canada’s 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 that we are creating,” International Trade Minister Mary Ng said Friday.

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

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

The announcement does not list specific products, but likely involves Canada selling more natural gas and buying equipment for green technology.

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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 the news conference before taking questions from reporters.

Click to play video: 'Canada to open agricultural office in Indo-Pacific region: Trudeau'
Canada to open agricultural office in Indo-Pacific region: Trudeau

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

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

The new funding is part of the Indo-Pacific strategy that the Liberals have started gradually rolling out, after promising one for years.

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Trudeau on tense moment with China’s Xi at G20: “Not every conversation is going to be easy”

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

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“We will continue to be in key areas of the world as we must be in support of global peace and security, and you will see that in the Indo-Pacific strategy, and we will continue to be supporting the NATO allies and the sovereignty and stability of Ukraine,” National Defence Minister Anita Anand told reporters in Halifax on Friday.

During a leaders’ session, Trudeau was seated between the heads of government of Brunei and Chile, as they were placed in alphabetical order of each country’s English name. This may have avoided another awkward encounter between Trudeau and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

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Xi was filmed Wednesday accusing Trudeau of harming diplomatic relations by sharing details with the media about a prior meeting.

Trudeau also had lunch with leaders of the 21 members of APEC, plus guests that the Thai government invited, including Saudi Arabia’s prime minister, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Trudeau told reporters he brought up Saudi Arabia’s human-rights record, and that Canada has to work with countries “of all different backgrounds” to make progress on issues like climate change or the economy.

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

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

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

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