Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon (L) shakes hands with Secretary of Foreign Affairs Patricia Espinosa of Mexico before their meeting in Wakefield, Quebec of Canada, Dec. 13, 2010. (Xinhua/Christopher Pike)
The foreign ministers of the United States, Mexico and Canada met here on Monday to discuss bilateral, regional and international issues.
Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Lawrence Cannon hosted the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Mexico's Secretary of Foreign Affairs Patricia Espinosa at the picturesque Wakefield Mill Inn in the tiny resort village of Wakefield, Quebec, about 35 kilometers north of Ottawa.
On North American regional issues, the ministers reaffirmed their governments' commitment to trilateral cooperation and coordination, as it will bring benefits to the three countries.
They discussed continental and regional security and prepared for the next North American Leaders Summit (NALS), expected in 2011.
"Ministers reviewed the work undertaken since the 2009 Guadalajara NALS to support our economy and advance competitiveness," the Canadian Chair's Statement said. "They look forward to progress on regulatory cooperation and to enhanced coordination to promote exports."
The ministers stressed trilateral cooperation on cyber security, Internet freedom and privacy to foster the protection and promotion of human rights, as well as innovation and prosperity.
They also discussed how leaders could strengthen health cooperation in revising the North American Plan for Avian and Pandemic Influenza.
On the results of the 16th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the ministers discussed and highlighted the importance of an integrated North American approach to climate change, clean energy, and environmental issues writ large, the statement said.
At a press conference following the half-day meeting, Cannon said that trilateral cooperation will reinforce Canada's efforts to assist partners in the hemisphere in the areas of law enforcement, policing, corrections and judicial systems, as well as disaster preparedness and relief.
On the situation in Central America, the ministers said that North American partners are increasingly concerned about the security situation throughout Central America and the Caribbean, renewing their commitment to combating transnational criminal organizations.
"The ministers agreed to support citizens' efforts in the Americas to strengthen democratic values, processes and institutions and, to make democracies more effective, accountable and able to respond to the needs and interests of citizens," the statement said.
They stressed the importance of trilateral cooperation in their commitment to work toward the identification of specific areas of cooperation in Central America.
They also discussed the engagement with the countries of Central America, with a view to creating a North America-Central America dialogue to strengthen regional cooperation and efforts against transnational criminal organizations.
Trilateral cooperation on natural disaster risk reduction, prevention/mitigation, preparedness and response in the Americas are also on the agenda of the meeting, the statement added.
On the Haiti issue, the ministers called on the international community to make joint efforts to end the chaos in Haiti following a disputed presidential election there.
"Ministers call on the existing process of the United Nations, the Organization of American States and CARICOM, including the Verification Commission, to continue thorough efforts to find a solution going forward on the second round of elections," the statement said.
The ministers reaffirmed their commitment to Haiti, saying that they will continue monitoring issues including the political transition and related democratic process.
"Other priorities are the response to the outbreak of cholera and the reconstruction and the promotion of long-term stability and prosperity through private sector investment and development," the statement added.
U.S. State Secretary Clinton told reporters that there are reconstruction, economic, health and political problems in Haiti.
"We now have an electoral challenge that is acute ... the electoral challenge, the lack of stability in the government, the problems determining who will lead the country forward," she said.
"We will respond to the needs that exist and help to create better living conditions for the people of the country," she added.
Cannon also said that it is critical that the recounting of ballots be addressed in a timely and transparent manner and that calm be restored to the streets in Haiti.
"It is essential that Haitian political actors fulfill their responsibilities and demonstrate a firm commitment to democratic principles, including respect for the integrity of the electoral process," he said.
Cannon stressed that Canada has committed substantial resources to rebuilding Haiti in the aftermath of the Jan. 12 earthquake, and will continue to consult and work with its partners on the ground in Haiti, including the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti and the Organization of American States, to help the country address these important challenges.
On the security issues, the ministers said they need to make joint efforts to address the security challenges in the region.
"My colleagues and I had a substantive discussion this morning regarding continental and regional security, and ways in which we can jointly address the challenges in our region," Cannon said.