ASEAN Summit: Justin Trudeau praises Canada's commitments

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ASEAN Summit: Justin Trudeau praises Canada's commitments

Justin Trudeau at a press conference in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, with ministers Mélanie Joly (left) and Mary Ng.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Sunday called for more Canadian engagement with countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and reiterated the importance of the Indo-Pacific region to the Canadian economy. He made the statement at the organization's summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Mr. Trudeau recalled some of the commitments Canada made earlier this week under Canada's Indo-Pacific Strategy, presented by Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly. The Prime Minister sees this as an opportunity to strengthen Canada's commitment to this region, which is a priority for Canadians.

Expanding our partnerships and economic ties with these countries is critical to Canada, Mr. Trudeau said at a press conference on Sunday.

For him, the ASEAN countries represent opportunities for investment and the creation of good jobs, now and in the future, as our economy grows, added Mr. Trudeau.

It's a region with enormous potential, he insisted, and if we want to create good jobs for the middle class and help our Canadian businesses to prosper, we must be more present here [in Southeast Asia].

Mr. Trudeau also took advantage of his presence at the ASEAN summit to announce an investment of $990,000 which will be devoted to demining in this region.

Canada will therefore supervise and train personnel in Laos, but also in Cambodia – where training will be offered to women so that they can participate in mine clearance activities.

Ottawa will also supporting a training project to provide long-term assistance to Cambodia to clear landmines still buried in the country. This funding will be used, among other things, to protect the personnel carrying out the demining.

On Saturday, Prime Minister Trudeau announced various initiatives such as the creation of a Southeast Asia Trade Gateway and financing for development, in addition to negotiations to conclude a free trade agreement with the countries of the ASEAN.

Canada will invest $330 million over the next five years in Southeast Asian countries.

In front of the press, Mr. Trudeau insisted that economic development must be sustainable and that the consequences of climate change will lead to significant challenges for our communities and our economies.

We are committed to keeping the ocean healthy in the Indo-Pacific region and we will invest in a new Common Ocean Fund, Mr. Trudeau noted. This fund will make it possible in particular to fight against illegal fishing.

Canada will therefore invest in resilient infrastructure in this region of the world and increase its international assistance in the countries most vulnerable to climate change, particularly the coastal countries of Southeast Asia.

But building a sustainable future is also about ensuring everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed, said Mr. Trudeau.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly visit the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, which is the memorial site of the regime's S-21 prison interrogation and detention center Khmer Rouge.

After participating in an event for women's peace and security, the Prime Minister indicated that Canada will establish an action plan in partnership with ASEAN which will promote gender equality in the Indo-Pacific region and encourage the success of women and girls.

Canada is home to one of the largest diasporas from Southeast Asia, and we will continue to strengthen our ties between peoples, committed Mr. Trudeau. He announced his desire to offer more students from ASEAN countries the opportunity to study in Canada.

“That's how we're going to maintain Canada's position as a true world player. This is why we are here today, why we are going to be at the G20 in Indonesia tomorrow and why we are going to participate in the APEC summit in Thailand.

—Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

Justin Trudeau has advanced on some thorny issues that will be discussed at the G20 summit in Indonesia – the situation in Ukraine will be part of bitter discussions.

He noted that Russian President Vladimir Putin knows Canada's position on the illegal war in Ukraine. According to him, it destabilizes the world economy by causing in particular an energy crisis, inflation and a food crisis. For the prime minister, the G20 must respond and Russia must be held accountable for the current crisis.

The G20 was created to be able to work on the big issues, Mr. Trudeau insisted, and it must denounce Vladimir Putin's monumental mistake with the invasion of Ukraine, as well as denounce the countries which continue to support or not to condemn Russia's actions.

He has no intention of sitting down and talking to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. But he will certainly hear the denunciation of Canada and its call to isolate Russia.

The Prime Minister of Canada will also challenge China about the situation of the Uighur minority , as he visited the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, the memorial site of the Khmer Rouge regime's S-21 prison interrogation and detention center in Cambodia.

He added that Canada will continue to work with China, which has an active role in the world. We have to work with it, but we will stand up for Canadians, noted Mr. Trudeau, for whom human rights and the rule of law must come first.

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