Canada's Trudeau to visit South Korea; focus on minerals, security

Trudeau's visit, the first in nine years by a Canadian leader, marks the 60th anniversary of bilateral relations

Hyonhee Shin, Reuters
Published : 16 May 2023, 05:51 AM
Updated : 16 May 2023, 05:51 AM

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will arrive in South Korea on Tuesday for a summit with President Yoon Suk Yeol as the two countries seek to boost cooperation on security and critical minerals used in batteries.

Yoon and Trudeau are scheduled to hold a summit and joint press conference on Wednesday, followed by an official dinner, said Yoon's deputy national security advisor, Kim Tae-hyo.

Trudeau's visit, the first in nine years by a Canadian leader, marks the 60th anniversary of bilateral relations, and both sides will issue a joint statement mapping out their partnership for the next 60 years, Kim said.

The two US allies have been exploring ways to deepen cooperation on critical minerals used in electric vehicle (EV) batteries and step up intelligence sharing.

"The two leaders will discuss intensively on ways to build a norms-based global order including on North Korea's human rights issues, launching a high-level economic and security dialogue, strengthening cooperation on key minerals," Kim told reporters.

Yoon and Trudeau will sign an agreement on key mineral supply chains, clean energy conversion and energy security cooperation, a South Korean government official told Reuters, requesting anonymity as the deal was not finalised.

Canada has been trying to scale up EV production, with ample mineral reserves, including lithium, cobalt and nickel, which are used to make batteries for those vehicles.

The two leaders agreed to deepen cooperation on minerals supply chains when they met last September, as part of efforts to cut emissions to fight climate change.

The two countries have also sought to step up security cooperation including intelligence sharing, while navigating an intensifying rivalry between the United States and China.

Diplomatic tensions between Canada and China have been running high since the detention of Huawei Technologies executive Meng Wanzhou in 2018 and Beijing's subsequent arrest of two Canadians on spying charges.

Last week, China expelled a Canadian diplomat in Shanghai in a tit-for-tat move after Ottawa told a Toronto-based Chinese diplomat to leave.

Yoon has trodden cautiously with China, South Korea's largest trade partner, but he has been more vocal over tension in the Taiwan Strait. Last month Seoul and Beijing exchanged harsh words over Yoon's comments in an interview with Reuters.