OTTAWA (Toronto Star) – The U.S. State Department says it is looking forward to a productive meeting today when Central American leaders gather online with Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly to talk about the future of Haiti.
The embattled, poverty-racked Caribbean nation has been roiled by unrest since the summer, when President Jovenel Moïse was killed in a shooting at his house that also injured his wife.
Joly is convening the virtual summit while she is in the midst of a three-country European trip to talk with leaders there about the Russian military buildup on the Ukraine border.
On Tuesday, U.S. President Joe Biden said Los Angeles would play host this June to the Summit of the Americas, where leaders from across the two continents and the Caribbean gather every three years to talk about shared priorities.
The causes of — and potential solutions to — irregular migration will be a priority item on the agenda.
Migrants from Haiti and a number of Central American countries have been regularly moving northward, putting pressure on the southern border of the United States and creating widespread instability in the Western Hemisphere.
“Canada will host a ministerial meeting … and we look forward to a strong commitment from countries, both within the Americas and around the world, in support of the Haitian people,” said Brian Nichols, the assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs.
Nichols was briefing reporters Thursday on Biden’s priorities for the Summit of the Americas, which is taking place in the U.S. for the first time since the inaugural event in Miami in 1994.
“As we approach the summit, I expect that we will continue efforts among the nations of our hemisphere, as well as partners from around the world, to support those nations in the Americas that need more help, and Haiti’s obviously very much among them,” he said.
“I hope that the Haitian people will come together around a unified way forward that will put that nation back on the path to democracy and economic growth.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry are scheduled to speak at today’s meeting.
They will be joined by representatives of the United Nations, the Caribbean Community, or CARICOM, the International Organisation of la Francophonie and the Organization of American States for what Global Affairs Canada describes as an attempt to co-ordinate security efforts and foster political stability and sustainable development.
Joly also confirmed Thursday that her counterpart from France, Jean-Yves Le Drian, would also attend, and that the pair “agreed on the importance of international collaboration to address the challenges faced by Haiti and Haitians particularly with respect to security issues.”