Baird and Kerry talk Keystone, Iran, and hockey

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (R) shakes hands with Canada's Foreign Minister John Baird following their meeting at the State Department in Washington, February 8, 2013.

Credits: Reuters


WASHINGTON -- They didn't drop the gloves.

But U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry - a Bruins fan - and Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird - a Senators fan - did jokingly "clash" over the rivalry when they met here Friday for Kerry's first bilateral meeting as America's top diplomat.

"(But) I want you all to know it's the first time I've ever heard anybody talk well of Senators," said Kerry, a 28-year veteran of the U.S. Senate.

While the two joked about hockey, more serious issues dominated the agenda, such as Syria and Iran. Perhaps most importantly, they talked energy and Keystone, too.

"Obviously the Keystone XL pipeline is a huge priority for our government and for the Canadian economy," Baird told reporters following the meeting, noting he and Kerry had a "good discussion" about it privately.

"We spoke about making a decision based on science, and based on facts," he said. "I think we all share the need for a growing economy to create jobs. We share a desire on energy security for North America, and we also share the objective of protecting our environment for future generations."

Kerry was non-committal about whether the Obama administration will approve or reject TransCanada's application to build the $7-billion pipeline that would ship crude from Canada's oilsands to refineries in the southern U.S.

As he told the Senate's Foreign Relations committee during his nomination hearing last month, Kerry said he'll wait for his department to complete its review of the application before passing judgment.

"I'm not going to go into the merits of it here today. I pay great respect ... to the important energy relationship with Canada," he told reporters Friday, adding he hopes to make a decision soon. "I don't know precisely when, but I assure you in the near term."

Meanwhile, speculation is growing here that Carolyn Kennedy, JFK's daughter, could become the next US Ambassador to Canada. The last surviving member of the White House Kennedy's, Carolyn has been a big supporter of President Barack Obama's for years, and even addressed the Democratic convention in Charlotte, N.C., last fall.

Other names being talked about as possible replacements for David Jacobson are retired Maine Republican Senator Olympia Snowe, former Washington State Governor Christine Gregoire, and former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, who was born in Vancouver and lived there as a young child.

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