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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 26 February 2021

Biden and Trudeau meet online to press reset on US-Canada relations

Leaders discuss climate change, Covid-19 and the economy

US President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau came together online for the first such meeting of Mr Biden’s presidency.

The world leaders discussed topics including climate change, the Covid-19 pandemic and the economy, and laid out a road map for renewing the relationship between the two countries.

The US and Canada share the longest land border in the world and have for decades shared a warm and fruitful relationship. But that changed under former president Donald Trump, who repeatedly attacked Mr Trudeau and belittled the long-standing trade agreements created by Nafta in 1994.

The border has been closed to all non-essential travel since March 21 because of Covid-19 restrictions.

But Mr Biden and Mr Trudeau appear eager to move on and reforge the bonds between the two nations.

At times, Mr Biden was flanked by Vice President Kamala Harris, who spent part of her childhood in Canada; Secretary of State Antony Blinken; National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan; and Juan Gonzalez, National Security Council senior director for Western Hemisphere Affairs. Mr Trudeau was joined by Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland.

Mr Biden was quick to flatter his Canadian allies.

“The United States has no closer friend than Canada. That’s why you were my first call as president, my first bilateral meeting,” he said in his opening remarks.

Mr Trudeau greeted the president by thanking him for his work on climate change, a topic both leaders take very seriously.

“Thank you again for stepping up in such a big way tackling climate change. US leadership has been strongly missed over the past years,” he said, taking a shot at Mr Trump, who pulled the US out of the Paris Agreement.

In remarks after the meeting, Mr Biden echoed the importance of the US and Canada’s roles in fighting climate change.

“Canada and the United States are going to work in lock step to display the seriousness of our commitment both at home and abroad. To that end, we’re launching a high-level climate ambitious ministerial and to align our policies and our goals and to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050,” he said.

Mr Biden pledged to work with Canada to secure the release of two Canadians held in China on allegations of spying.

The two countries will publish a joint road map outlining their relationship shortly.

Updated: February 24, 2021 08:44 AM

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