Blinken in Canada: Haiti military force ‘work in progress’

VANCOUVER, Canada (AP) — The U.S. and Canada will work together to “cut the insecurity knot” that has allowed gangs to create a humanitarian crisis in Haiti, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Thursday.

But neither Blinken nor Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly committed their country to leading a military force to the Caribbean nation.

“This is a work in progress and we are continuing to pursue it,” Blinken told a news conference in Ottawa during his first visit to Canada.

Blinken said Canada and the U.S. agree that “more likely needs to be done” to support the Haitian national police to restore their grip on security.

“We’ve been talking about what that might look like,” said Blinken. “We have both been talking to a variety of countries to gauge their interest in and willingness to participate in that.”

Joly said Canada has sent an “assessment mission” to gather information to find the solutions that are supported by Hattians.

Haiti’s interim government has operated in chaos since the July 2021 assassination of former president Jovenel Moise.

Since September, armed gangs have been blockading fuel access, leading to a shortage of basic goods, clean water and medical services, all during a cholera outbreak.

Canada and the U.S. have sent tanks, and the United Nations is considering a military intervention to restore order, which has been endorsed by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

Later, prior to a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Blinken said Canada and the U.S. “are the two most integrated countries in the world” and have a history of working together to solve issues.

“Not one of the problems that is having an effect on our own people or what we need to deal with around the world can be solved by one of us acting alone,” he said. “The more we find ways to cooperate, to work together, the more effective we’re going to be.”

During the news conference Blinken and Joly reiterated their support for Ukraine, condemned Iran for its treatment of women and for supplying drones to Russia, and pledged to work together to increase Arctic security.

Blinken called Russia’s use of Iranian drones to kill Ukrainian civilians and destroy infrastructure as “appalling.”

“We keep working with our allies and partners to deter and counter Iran’s provision of these weapons,” he said.

Joly said Canada said stands with the women and girls in Iran who are fighting against tyranny.

“Women’s rights are human rights,” she said. “We have a moral obligation to support the brave women of Iran and hold those persecuting them accountable.”

There have been protests across Iran sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini who died in police custody after being arrested for allegedly wearing her hijab “improperly”.

Blinken also touched on Canadian and U.S. citizens being held by other countries.

Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig were held in China for over 1,000 days in what was seen as a retaliation for the arrest in Canada of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou.

U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner is facing a nine-year jail term in Russia after being convicted of smuggling and possessing cannabis oil.

“We support Canada’s efforts to rally countries around the world in ending the unlawful practice of detaining innocent individuals and using them as political pawns,” said Blinken. “Both our countries have suffered from this.”

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