© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Melanie Joly at a news conference in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada February 24, 2022. REUTERS/Blair Gable/File Photo

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada and the Dominican Republic have agreed that Canada will coordinate assistance for Haiti by boosting staff at its embassies in Port-au-Prince and Santo Domingo, the countries said in a joint statement on Wednesday.

The agreement settles a public dispute last week over a proposed Canadian office in Dominican territory that risked further complicating an international plan to boost Haiti’s outgunned police force.

“Canada and the Dominican Republic have solid bilateral relations and are long standing partners including on regional security matters,” the joint statement said.

Both countries agree that the Haiti crisis requires enhanced international cooperation, humanitarian, and security assistance, the statement said.

“We will enhance coordination in Haiti, Dominican Republic, Canada and other locations as required including through increased presence at the Canadian embassies in Port-au-Prince and Santo Domingo,” the countries said in the statement.

Last week, Canada’s Foreign Minister Melanie Joly announced plans to set up an office to coordinate Haiti assistance in the neighboring Dominican Republic, but a day later, her Dominican counterpart, Roberto Alvarez, said there was no deal to authorize such an office.

The Dominican Republic has strained relations with Haiti, with which it shares the Caribbean island of Hispaniola. Since gang violence escalated last year in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, Santo Domingo has stepped up border security and deported tens of thousands fleeing the crisis back to Haiti.

Since last year, Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry has called for an international force to rein in the gangs. The groups now control large parts of the country, which has fueled a humanitarian crisis that has displaced tens of thousands of Haitians.

The United States has pushed Canada to take a leading role, but to date no country has offered to lead an international force.


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