John Kerry and John Baird made a 19 minute public appearance,
fielding two questions, one from CNN reporter Elise Labott, who focused on arming Syrian rebels and the possibility of negotiations with Iran. The other from Canadian Press reporter Lee-Anne Goodman, who addressed the XL Keystone pipeline in view of the presidents remarks regarding increased focus on green energy and the effect of the involvement of Canadian citizens in Bulgaria bus bombing and the recent Algerian hostage taking.
Both Kerry and Baird emphasized the importance of the Canada-US relationship, including the Detroit River crossing in Windsor, Ontario, joint continental security, carbon reductions and North American energy independence.
In his opening remarks, John Kerry said:
that Canada and the US share a pretty important trillion dollar trade relationship, which is hugely important to both economies. He said that he saw the Canadian border not as a barrier, but a connection between the two countries. He also emphasized the important energy relationship.
We also share something else that’s pretty important: a trillion dollars of bilateral trade relationship. And that is hugely important to both of our countries, to our economies, and to our citizens.
Our border with Canada, happily, is not a barrier. It’s really a 5,000 mile-long connection between us and it is a central part of the daily pulse of our relationship. So today we talked about progress beyond our border.
We also talked about our dynamic energy relationship. Canada is the largest foreign energy supplier for the United States of America. And many people in America are not aware of that. They always think of the Mideast or some other part of the world.
Our neighbor to the north is also one of our most able global partners.
John Baird said in his press statement
that the US has been a friend and ally to Canada and that he thought the both countries under Obama and Harper accomplished a lot. He said that there was a good discussion on energy policy and stressed Canada's priority on getting the XL Keystone pipeline approved. He said that he was encouraged by the fact that Kerry had said that he will base his decision on facts and science rather than ideology. Kerry is a passionate advocate of climate change. Baird was also pleased with the discussions of joint security between the two countries.
The United States has been a phenomenal friend and ally to Canada, and under the Obama Administration and under Prime Minister Stephen Harper, I think the two leaders and the two governments have accomplished a great deal. Obviously for us, the number-one priority continues to be job creation and economic growth.
Particularly, we talked – had a good discussion, an exchange on energy policy. Obviously the Keystone XL Pipeline is a huge priority for our government and for the Canadian economy, and I appreciated the dialogue we had on what we can do to tackle environmental challenges together. President Obama and Prime Minister Harper both assumed a 17 percent reduction in GHG emissions as part of the Copenhagen Accord,
I appreciated the opportunity to discuss other issues involving security. I think I share, Canada shares the huge concern with respect to the potential of a nuclear Iran. We believe that beyond Iran’s support, material support for terrorism, beyond their abysmal and deteriorating human rights record, the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran is the biggest threat to international peace and security.
As previously mentioned, the state department permitted two questions
one from each side. Those questions focused on foreign policy issues relating to arming Syrian rebels and in Canada's case on the XL Keystone pipeline and the feelings of the US on Canadians being involved in terrorist attacks both in Bulgaria and Algeria.
He instead told a news conference that he will await a review process started by his predecessor Hillary Clinton and is promising a decision in the "near term."
The decision on Keystone is in the hands of the state department because the Keystone project will cross an international border.
On Iran Kerry said
that both countries were committed to preventing Iran from securing a nuclear weapon.
"I emphasize we are committed to preventing Iran from securing a nuclear weapon. And we will continue our dual-track policy of both pressure and engagement," said Kerry.
The U.S. secretary of state said the U.S. has agreed to meet with Iranian officials again in two weeks in Kazakhstan.
Both Kerry and Baird emphasized the positive of the relationship, but were non-committal on the Keystone pipeline. Kerry referred foreign policy questions to the White House where those decisions will be made.
The Canada-US relationship is important, especially to Canada. Sharing the continent with a giant, whose economy can influence that of Canada's requires close co-operation. The Harper government has promised to meet its obligations in carbon reduction, including fuel consumption standard in the automobile industry. The United States is sure to hold their feet to the ground.
The recognition of the importance of the Canada-US relationship, as was highlighted by making Canada's foreign minister, demonstrates that the US also considers this relationship a high priority.