Trudeau ends Thailand visit pledging Asia energy cash, as North Korea sidetracks APEC

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Thailand Source: Twitter/Justin Trudeau

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged Friday to expand trade in natural resources with like-minded countries while wrapping up his brief visit to Thailand, where he joined an emergency meeting to discuss North Korea.

He is in Bangkok to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, which was sidetracked by news that North Korea had launched a ballistic missile that landed near Japanese waters.

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.

Trudeau told his five colleagues that Canada will continue its role in a United Nations mission 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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

Trudeau was scheduled to have lunch with a group including Saudi Arabia's prime minister, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, which Trudeau's office says was organized by the Thai government.

As the meeting host, Thailand had invited leaders of non-APEC economies, including bin Salman, French President Emmanuel Macron and 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.

© 2022 The Canadian Press

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