Canada has a new top diplomat in Minneapolis, a foreign relations veteran who's already cozied up to a Minnesota hockey big shot since his recent arrival.
Khawar Nasim was appointed consul general by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to a four-year term that makes him responsible for relations with Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.
Nasim's primary mission is to build trade and investment opportunities between the region and his nation. Two-way trade between Canada and the five states last year topped $27 billion and supported nearly 400,000 jobs in the five states, according to the Minneapolis-based consul general's office.
"Canada is honored to have had a diplomatic presence in Minnesota for 46 years," Nasim said in a statement released by his government this week announcing his succession of Jamshed Merchant, whose four-year term expired. "Canadians and Americans are intrinsically linked, sharing similar cultures, values, and sporting traditions."
Nasim added that he's "encouraged upon arrival to learn that Canada is the number one export destination for all five of the states in this territory. ... I chose to come to the U.S., and more specifically the Upper Midwest, because, professionally, I know that my work here will be important, and personally, that this will be a wonderful place to raise a family."
Nasim appears to have hit the ground running since his arrival in the region, having already made the rounds in Iowa and then welcoming to his downtown Minneapolis office fellow Canadian, Minnesota Wild head coach Bruce Boudreau, also a newcomer to Minnesota.
Nasim's service to Canada as a diplomat has taken him most recently to The Hague, Netherlands, and to earlier posts in Spain and Italy. Khawar took a leave from government to work from 2010 to 2013 as a senior executive for one of Canada's largest gold companies, Yamana Gold of Toronto.
He is married to Lise Beaulne Nasim. They have two children, Nico and Olivia.