Canada’s top diplomat, defense chief visit Washington

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OTTAWA: Canada’s top diplomat and its defense chief will be in Washington on Monday and Tuesday as trade tensions mount between the two North American neighbors.

Global Affairs Canada, which promotes the country’s international trade, said that Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland and Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan would meet with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary James Mattis and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

The ministers will also hold meetings “with important stakeholders to discuss Canadian priorities and cooperation between the two countries,” the trade agency said.

The visit comes ahead of a summit of NATO member nations in late May, followed by the summit of G7 developed nations in Italy.


It also follows the confirmation of Robert Lighthizer as Donald Trump’s Special Representative for Trade (USTR) on Thursday.

Lighthizer, seen as a trade hawk, will play a pivotal role in renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico.

Much of Trump’s trade agenda has been on hold since Lighthizer’s nomination in January.

Last week Ross, the US commerce secretary, said he hoped to resolve delays in Congress that would allow the White House to formally notify it of its intent to renegotiate NAFTA, which would start the 90-day clock before the talks could begin.

Separately, Ross said last month that Washington was imposing duties of up to 24 percent on Canadian lumber used in construction after the two countries failed to reach an agreement in the 35-year-old dispute over charges that Ottawa subsidizes the industry. AFP

AFP/CC

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