The proposed Keystone XL pipeline is likely to be discussed when Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird meets with newly appointed U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry Friday afternoon in Washington, D.C.
With the fate of the controversial $7-billion proposed pipeline still up in the air, there's "no doubt that that subject will come up, as it always does with our Canadian counterparts," said U.S. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland during Thursday's daily U.S. press briefing.
Kerry and Baird are expected to discuss "ways to deepen co-operation across the extensive U.S.-Canada relationship, including in bilateral trade, investment, energy security and environmental stewardship, as well as securing and streamlining trade and travel at our shared border," said Nuland.
The men will also "explore ways to strengthen North American co-operation and U.S.-Canadian collaboration in advancing human rights, democracy, security and good governance in the Americas and around the globe," she said.
International security — be it the situations in Iran, Syria or Mali — will also be part of their conversation, Baird told reporters in Ottawa on Thursday.
Kerry, who assumed office on Feb. 1, "felt very strongly that our Canadian neighbour and ally should be first," said Nuland.
She reminded reporters that Kerry's predecessor, Hillary Clinton, held her first bilateral meeting with Mexico, so it was Canada's turn now. "We are doing some nice bookends here in the hemisphere," Nuland said.
Baird said Kerry's decision to hold his first bilateral meeting with Canada was a sign of the "great partnership" between the two countries.
Kerry's phone call to Baird
Baird was also one of the first foreign officials Kerry called last Saturday, during his first weekend on the job.
On Monday, Baird told reporters he used the conversation with Kerry to make the case for the U.S. State Department's approval of the proposed TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline.
Kerry said that the two agreed to work closely together on a broad range of issues and "agreed to stay in touch on the Keystone pipeline."
Under pressure from Canada, as well as both pro-pipeline and anti-pipeline groups, Kerry has not indicated where he stands, saying only "I will be a passionate advocate on this not based on ideology but based on facts and science."
Baird also told reporters that Kerry didn't raise any concerns about the alleged Canadian involvement in last month's gas plant attack in Algeria.
Kerry was sworn in at a small, private ceremony on Capitol Hill last Friday, less than two hours after Clinton stepped down from the job.
Next U.S. ambassador to Canada
With the appointment of David Jacobson, the U.S. ambassador to Canada, coming to an end in a few months after a four-year term, there has been much speculation about U.S. President Barack Obama's choice for the next U.S. envoy to Canada.
Several names have been rumoured, including that of Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of former U.S. president John F. Kennedy.
"I have no personnel announcements to make here, but you know that the White House is responsible for making such announcements when the president is ready to nominate folks," Nuland told reporters on Thursday.
When asked if Kerry, a long-time friend of the Kennedy family, would welcome such an appointment, Nuland repeated "again, I don’t have anything on personnel to share today."