President Biden’s first bilateral meeting with Canada’s Justin Trudeau since taking office was high on policy, low on pomp, and featured a very large swipe at Biden's predecessor as the coronavirus forced the two leaders to convene virtually Tuesday rather than gathering with customary Oval Office fanfare. The two leaders—Biden in the Roosevelt Room at the White House and Trudeau in the prime minister's office in Ottawa—delivered friendly opening remarks in front of the media, with flags from both countries on display at both ends of the long-distance conversation, the AP reports. “The United States has no closer friend, no closer friend, than Canada,” Biden said. Trudeau, in turn, commended Biden for quickly rejoining the Paris climate accord, a worldwide pact to curb climate emissions that former President Trump walked away from early in his term. More:
- The prime minister, who had a frosty relationship with Trump at times, worked in a jab at Trump as he praised Biden. “US leadership has been sorely missed over the past years,” Trudeau said. “And I have to say as we were preparing the joint rollout of the communiqué on this, it’s nice when the Americans are not pulling out all the references to climate change and instead adding them in.”
- In remarks at the end of the talks, Biden for the first time publicly spoke out against the detention of two Canadian citizens imprisoned in China in apparent retaliation for Canada’s arrest of a top Huawei executive. “Human beings are not bartering chips,” Biden said of the two Canadians. “We are going to work together until their safe return.” Trudeau, for his part, publicly thanked Biden for his support in seeking the men’s release.
- The two leaders agreed to a “road map” outlining how the neighboring countries will work together to fight COVID-19, curb climate emissions, and pursue other shared priorities.
- Trudeau again raised with Biden the idea of allowing Canada, which is struggling to vaccinate its population, to buy vaccines produced in the US, according to a senior Canadian government official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to detail the private talks. Canada currently is getting vaccines shipped from Pfizer and Moderna plants in Europe.
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