THE HAGUE, Netherlands – Stephen Harper met briefly Tuesday with a variety of world leaders at the Nuclear Security Summit, an event that has so far been largely overshadowed by the crisis in eastern Europe.
The prime minister and Japan’s Shinzo Abe, both G7 leaders, discussed trade and touched on the group’s actions against Russia in retaliation of its annexation of Crimea last week. Japan is Canada’s fourth-largest trading partner, with bilateral merchandise trade exceeding $24 billion in 2013.
Harper also chatted briefly with President Xi Jinping of China at the summit, which is focused on ensuring the globe’s nuclear materials are kept out of the hands of terrorists.
During that conversation, Harper expressed personal condolences for the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which the Malaysian government says crashed into the southern Indian Ocean.
About two-thirds of the plane’s passengers were from China.
The two also discussed Gov. Gen. David Johnston’s recent state visit to China and the possibility of Harper going to China later this year.
Harper also met with New Zealand Prime Minister John Key. Their discussion focused mostly on trade.
The prime minister’s appearance at the nuclear summit comes one day after G7 leaders announced they had essentially booted Russia out of the G8 as a consequence for its aggression in eastern Europe.
There are 53 world leaders in this pristine European capital, a place punctuated by picturesque canals, ponds and a deer sanctuary. Young bucks can be seen playfully bashing antlers as commuters speed by on bicycles.
Helicopters frequently buzzed overhead throughout the two days of the summit, especially when U.S. President Barack Obama was arriving or leaving the site.
Obama, Harper and the rest of the leaders gathered Tuesday for what’s colloquially known as the family photo. Throughout the shoot, Harper chatted amiably with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The prime minister’s next stop is Germany, where he’ll spend two days in Munich and Berlin, and will meet with Merkel to further discuss the crisis in Ukraine. As the two most senior members of the G7, Harper and Merkel have a close relationship.