QUEBEC CITY (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday he expects Canada to announce in the coming weeks what role it will play in an international coalition fighting Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who won an election last October promising to withdraw six fighter jets from a U.S.-led coalition attacking the militants, has yet to state what Canada plans to do once those planes are pulled out.
“I am absolutely confident that the prime minister and his security team are working on ways to continue their significant contribution” to the coalition, Kerry told reporters after meeting his Canadian and Mexican counterparts in Quebec City.
“While they may have made a choice with respect to one particular component of that effort, that does not reflect on their overall commitment and capacity to contribute significantly to the road ahead, and we are confident they will,” Kerry said.
Kerry added, “I look forward in the next weeks to the prime minister’s notification to us of what the plan going forward will be.”
Stephane Dion, Canada’s foreign minister, said Canada was exploring other ways it could contribute to the coalition.
“We have received a number of requests, in particular from our American friends, and this helps us better understand how we can deploy our efforts,” Dion said.
Kerry and Dion said they would have further discussions on the issue at a meeting of coalition partners in Rome next week.
The three ministers discussed Haiti’s leadership crisis and called on Haitian politicians to move ahead “as quickly and properly as possible.”
Thousands of supporters of Michel Martelly, Haiti’s outgoing president, have been taking to the streets in the capital, demanding speedy elections. Martelly is due to leave office on Feb. 7 but has no elected replacement.
The meeting also addressed ways to collaborate in fighting the Zika virus, which has been linked to severe birth defects and is spreading quickly through the Americas.
Kerry congratulated Mexico on the arrest of drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, although he did not say when Mexico would extradite him to the United States.
Guzman was caught this month after six months on the run. He had led a cartel that smuggled billions of dollars worth of cocaine, heroin, marijuana and methamphetamines into the United States and fought vicious turf wars with other Mexican gangs.
Reporting by Lesley Wroughton; Editing by Will Dunham