With little attention from mainstream media, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with the foreign ministers of Canada and Mexico in a North American Foreign Ministers Meeting in Quebec, Canada.
The December 13 meeting is a prelude to the next North American Summit Leaders meeting in 2011, a yet unscheduled trilateral summit that is the continuation of the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America. Under the low-key format, the continental meetings have been carried out with little fanfare and outside of congressional oversight.
The Canadian government website detailed that the Quebec meeting identified as important the following areas of trilateral cooperation:
Engagement with the countries of Central America, with a view to creating a North America-Central America dialogue to strengthen regional cooperation and efforts against trans-national criminal organizations;
Trilateral cooperation on natural disaster reduction, prevention/mitigation, preparedness and response in the Americas;
A commitment to Haiti, specifically, that it remains a mutual priority and the subject of continued monitoring, including on the political transition and related democratic process.
Also mentioned on the website of the Canadian government was "the importance of an integrated North American approach to climate change, clean energy, and environmental issues writ large," as well as trilateral cooperation cyber security, Internet freedom and privacy.
Finally, the Canadian government noted that trilateral public health and safety officials had worked to revise the North American Plan for Avian and Pandemic Influenza, although changes to the agreement were not specified.
Adopted at the August 2007 SPP meeting in Montebello, Quebec, the Plan establishes U.N. law along with regulations by the World Trade Organization and World Health Organization as supreme over national law during a pandemic and sets the stage for militarizing the management of continental health emergencies.
Published on the U.S. Department of State website, the comments of Mexican Foreign Secretary Patricia Espinosa made clear the Quebec North American Foreign Ministers meeting covered a wide range of policy areas, including "a relevant agenda with regard to the environment, energy, and in creating a common basis to fight climate change among our countries."
Espinosa also stressed "the importance of strengthening North America’s competitiveness to consolidate our economic recovery," echoing the competitiveness theme of the "Prosperity Agenda" under SPP.
According to the State Department website, Clinton stated, "I want to say first and foremost that the partnership between Canada, Mexico, and the United States is of critical importance."
Clinton said the U.S., Canada and Mexico work together every day, "whether it is to drive economic progress, or strengthen our security, or address urgent problems such as climate change or violent extremism in places like Afghanistan, or narco-traffickers or pandemic disease," producing a profound impact on every level, "locally, regionally and globally."
Building on the theme of "North American citizens," Clinton stressed, "No partnership means more to the United States and to the hundreds of millions of North American citizens whose lives and futures are increasingly intertwined."
In a report on the Quebec meeting, the Boston Globe made clear that diplomats in attendance were not authorized to speak publicly about the talks.