Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland, left, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, speaks to reporters during a news conference at the State Department in Washington, Friday, Dec. 14, 2018. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP Photo)

Pompeo congratulates Champagne and Freeland on their new appointments

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a statement Thursday congratulating Canada’s newly-minted Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland with their new roles.

The two ministers were sworn in Wednesday as the Liberals began their second mandate in a minority government.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promoted Freeland to deputy prime minister and intergovernmental affairs minister to use her diplomatic skills to deal with the growing discontent in Western Canada, while Champagne took over Freeland’s portfolio as Canada’s top diplomat.

However, Freeland, who was credited with spearheading the successful renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), will remain in charge of Canada-U.S. relationship.

“I look forward to working together as partners and allies on the international stage to advance issues of mutual importance and to sustaining the United States-Canada relationship, one of the closest and most extensive bilateral relationships in the world,” Pompeo said in a statement.

He also thanked Freeland “for her unwavering dedication to the U.S.-Canada relationship and for the integral role she continues to play as we work towards ratification of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement,” referring to the U.S. name of the newly renegotiated NAFTA.

Canada, the U.S. and Mexico signed the renewed North American free trade pact in November of 2018. Once ratified by the legislatures in all three countries, the Canada–United States–Mexico Agreement (CUSMA as it’s known in Canada) will replace the 25-year-old NAFTA.

However, to date only Mexico has ratified the agreement. Canada’s goal remains to move forward with ratification in tandem with the United States, to the extent possible, Freeland has said.

Pompeo and Champagne might get a chance for a personal meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Japan later this week.

However, Canadian officials would not say Thursday whether Champagne has any confirmed meetings yet with his G20 counterparts.

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