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Foreign affairs minister returns to U.S. capital to talk Ukraine with Blinken

WASHINGTON — Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly is standing by NATO's description of gas pipeline leaks in the Baltic Sea as the product of a likely act of sabotage. Joly is in Washington, D.C.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, left, speaks with Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly during a round table meeting at a NATO summit in Madrid, Spain on June 29, 2022. Joly is headed back to the U.S. capital to talk about Ukraine with Blinken. It will be the pair’s second meeting in just over a week, coming on the heels of the UN General Assembly in New York. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Susan Walsh, Pool

WASHINGTON — Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly is standing by NATO's description of gas pipeline leaks in the Baltic Sea as the product of a likely act of sabotage. 

Joly is in Washington, D.C., for two days of meetings with members of Congress and Secretary of State Antony Blinken. 

She retweeted NATO's statement that the twin Nord Stream pipelines between Russia and Germany were likely damaged by "deliberate, reckless, and irresponsible" acts of sabotage. 

The statement also promises a united and determined response to any deliberate attacks against the critical infrastructure of NATO allies. 

Swedish officials discovered a fourth leak today along the Nord Stream pipelines, vital energy links for Europe that began spewing methane into the sea Monday following two underwater explosions. 

"All currently available information indicates that this is the result of deliberate, reckless, and irresponsible acts of sabotage," the NATO statement said. 

The leaks are of "deep concern" and are also endangering shipping lanes, to say nothing of what is expected to be "substantial environmental damage," the statement says.

"We, as allies, have committed to prepare for, deter and defend against the coercive use of energy and other hybrid tactics by state and non-state actors," it continues. 

Ukraine will no doubt be a primary focus for Joly and Blinken, who are meeting again following their time last week at the UN General Assembly in New York. 

A news release from Joly's office says the pair also hope to make progress this week on "shared priorities" under the bilateral agreement forged last year between Canada and the United States. 

Shortly after President Joe Biden's inauguration, he and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau agreed to the "Roadmap for a Renewed U.S.-Canada Partnership." 

That agreement, however, became largely sidelined, first by the COVID-19 pandemic and then Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.  

Joly is also planning to meet members of Congress and speak at the Atlantic Council think tank, where she'll detail Canada's efforts on Ukraine's behalf.

"Our partnership endures because we invest in each other's success and offer opportunities for people on both sides of the border," Joly said in a statement. 

"At a time when the rules that have kept the world at relative peace are being challenged, I look forward to engaging with the United States to continue our partnership in protecting human rights, combating global threats and advancing peace and security."

Climate change is also likely to be a hot topic. 

Canada has joined a U.S.-led initiative to boost ties with Pacific island nations, a group that includes the U.K., New Zealand, Germany, Australia and Japan. 

On Wednesday, Blinken kicked off two days of meetings with Pacific leaders that will culminate Thursday with Biden taking part. It wasn't immediately clear if Joly would be part of those meetings. 

"Building resilience is about more than equipping communities to adapt to the effects of the climate crisis, which for many of you is an existential threat," Blinken said.

"It's also about preparing communities to weather a wide range of interrelated shocks that we know have caused cascading effects."

The interconnected crises of climate change, the lingering economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine, as well as their impact on the developing world, was a prominent theme of Trudeau's UN visit last week. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 29, 2022.

James McCarten, The Canadian Press