Jacinda Ardern wraps up Paris trip meeting Canadian PM Justin Trudeau, says engagement with US will continue
Source: https://www.stuff.co.nz/news/112791552/-

2019-05-16 10:52:01

Prime minister Jacinda Ardern has wrapped up an extensive week of events in Paris with a one-on-one meeting with Canadian PM Justin Trudeau.

Trudeau and Ardern met at the Canadian residence in Paris on Thursday morning, local time, following the taking up of the Christchurch Call the day before.

Canada was one of 17 countries to sign on to the call, as well as the European Commission. The three-page document sets out commitments for governments and tech companies to tackle online terrorism and extremism.

French president Emmanuel Macron specifically pointed to the fact that Canada had signed on as proof that the US should be comfortable with the pledge as it was accepted in "North America". The White House sent out a statement declining to join the pledge but expressing support for its overall goals. Free speech concerns have stopped the country signing on completely.

Ardern thanked Canada for the support with the pledge and endorsed Macron's view that the country's support was especially meaningful.

"Can I express on behalf of New Zealand our gratitude for the solidarity the condolences you have offered in the immediate aftermath of March 15. But it is one thing to offer that and it is another to take the time and the effort to travel and show that support for the initiative," Ardern said.

"I think it may have been President Macron who noted in the summit that the presence of Canada was really meaningful.

"We are like-minded nations but we needed to, of course, make sure that we are sending the message that the efforts we are taking are all in parallel with also supporting a free open and secure internet, and that those expressions of freedom of speech can live in harmony with the work we are trying to do against violent extremism and terrorism."

Trudeau thanked Ardern for her leadership following the terrorist attack on two Christchurch mosques, which claimed 51 lives.

"Your leadership following Christchurch resonated around the world," Trudeau said. "The leadership you've had on countering terrorism on the internet has been really significant. There's a lot more to do, but having the tech companies in this conversation is already a first important step."

Speaking after the meeting, Ardern said contact would continue with the US on the issue, particularly as so many of the tech companies who signed the pledge were based there.

"Contact with the US will be ongoing. It has been to date, and that will continue," Ardern said.

One of those companies was Microsoft, whose president Brad Smith told media he "would have loved" for the US to sign on.

"We'll continue to encourage the US government to support this in a variety of different ways," he said. He expected to see more private companies and countries join on to the pledge.

A "lean" team had been stood up within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade to handle work around the pledge, Ardern said.

The prime minister is travelling to Singapore to conclude a trade negotiation before coming home to New Zealand.

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