POLITICS

Jean Chretien Invited Putin To Send Emissary To Ex-Leaders' Meeting Next Month

05/19/2015 04:26 EDT | Updated 05/19/2016 05:59 EDT

Former prime minister Jean Chrétien tried at a meeting last month to persuade Russian President Vladimir Putin to send a representative to a meeting of former world leaders where the crisis in Ukraine will be on the agenda.

Chrétien is co-chair of the InterAction Council, a global group of ex-presidents and prime ministers. The council's next meeting will take place in Newport, Wales the first week of June and the ongoing crisis in Russia-Ukraine is up for discussion.

Tensions between Canada and Russia have escalated since Russia's annexation of Crimea in March, 2014.

Chrétien has not commented publicly on his meeting with Putin, but sources tell CBC News he plans to report on the discussion at the InterAction Council in June.

There's still no word whether he was successful in getting a commitment for a Russian representative to be at the meeting. A spokeswoman for the group says they are still working to finalize the list of participants.

"I expect we'll have around 20 former world leaders and an equal number of experts from various backgrounds," said InterAction spokeswoman Tanya Guy in an email to CBC News.

The independent group was established in 1983 and its membership includes more than 40 former heads of state or government, including former U.S. president Bill Clinton and former British prime minister John Major.

The statesmen discuss political, economic and social issues and potential resolutions to pressing problems.

"The council selects specific issues and develops proposals for action from these areas and communicates these proposals directly to government leaders, other national decision-makers, heads of international organizations and influential individuals around the world," the website for InterAction Council states.

Government tight-lipped about meeting

The April 30 meeting between Chrétien and Putin took place at a residence of the Russian president in the Novo-Ogaryovo estate near Moscow.

A representative at the Russian Embassy in Ottawa said the meeting was a positive one.

"During the meeting Mr. Chrétien and Mr. Putin exchanged views on international issues. The meeting was held in a very warm atmosphere and constructive manner," said Kirill Kalinin, second secretary at the Russian Embassy.

The Canadian government refuses to answer any questions about the meeting or whether anyone from the Conservative government has spoken with Chrétien.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's office last week repeated a statement made immediately after the April meeting.

"Mr. Chrétien was clearly not representing the government of Canada at this meeting. Our government's position on the Putin regime is clear," said spokeswoman Catherine Loubier. The Harper government has said repeatedly its message to Putin is to get out of Ukraine.

Other topics on the council's June agenda include the economy and the Middle East.

Also on HuffPost

Jean Chretien Just Being Jean Chretien