Russia, Canada want focus on economy
Aug 30, 2013 / 7:02 pm
Canada may have sharp words for Russia over its stance on Syria, but when it comes to next week's G20 summit, Stephen Harper and Vladimir Putin appear to be on the same page.
The two leaders are both of the view that the focus of the meeting should be about stimulating more world economic and job growth, and agree on a number of the ways to accomplish that.
That might seem a considerable feat — the leaders of the world's top military powers all happen to be part of the G20, too. They'll be assembled in St. Petersburg in front of the international media at the same time the U.S. might be leading a strike against Syria.
On Friday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said his government had "high confidence" that the Syrian regime carried out a chemical weapons attack against its own people last week. The Obama administration released an unclassified intelligence assessment to back up its assertion.
"Although the prime minister made very clear yesterday that the government of Canada has no plans at this time for a Canadian military mission, we fully support our friends and allies in responding to the Assad regime's horrific attack on its own people," Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said in a written statement Friday afternoon.
"The Obama administration has shown great resolve and proper due diligence in the past week, and we fully support its efforts going forward."
Baird has criticized Russia for obstructing any UN-sanctioned action against Syria at the security council, and also for supporting the regime of Syria President Bashar Assad.
Russia, for its part, says the United States and others should wait until United Nations chemical weapons inspectors report back.
One key area in which Canada and Russia are hoping for progress is long-term investment financing. The idea is to help unlock the trillions of dollars held by pension funds, insurance companies and mutual funds by making it easier for those types of institutions to make major investments in infrastructure and other projects around the world.
Canada and Russia have also been of the same point of view that G20 countries should agree on a hard target for their debt-to-GDP ratio, while the United States and some European countries have balked.
Neither the Russian government nor Harper's office is saying whether the two leaders will meet for an official bilateral meeting. U.S. President Barack Obama cancelled his meeting with Putin over Russia's granting of asylum to Edward Snowden, who leaked classified documents about National Security Agency surveillance of Americans.
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