Biden, Trudeau pledged to counter China, climate change, in warm first "meeting"

U.S. President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sought on Tuesday to turn the page on the Trump era, stressing the countries' deep ties and pledging to work together to counteract Chinese influence and address climate change.

Reuters | Beijing | Updated: 24-02-2021 09:22 IST | Created: 24-02-2021 06:27 IST
Biden, Trudeau pledged to counter China, climate change, in warm first "meeting"
Representative Image Image Credit: ANI

U.S. President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sought on Tuesday to turn the page on the Trump era, stressing the countries' deep ties and pledging to work together to counteract Chinese influence and address climate change. "The United States has no closer friend, no closer friend than Canada," Biden told Trudeau via an electronic video link with the Canadian leader and top aides. "That's why you were my first call as president (and) my first bilateral meeting," he said.

After talking for about two hours, the two leaders emerged and said they planned to work closely together to beat the COVID-19 pandemic and combat climate change, with a goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. Trudeau also thanked Biden for reiterating U.S. support for the release of two Canadians held by China, Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig. "Human beings are not bartering chips," Biden said. "We're going to work together until we get their safe return."

Biden and Trudeau did not take questions after delivering their remarks. Trudeau welcomed the Biden administration, citing, in particular, Washington's renewed attention to climate change in contrast to former U.S. President Donald Trump.

"Thank you, again, for stepping up in such a big way on tackling climate change. U.S. leadership has been sorely missed over the past years," the prime minister said. Canada has often been a U.S. president's first foreign stop, but the COVID-19 pandemic turned the sit-down between the two leaders and some of their top deputies into a virtual affair.

Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and other officials, all wearing dark masks, sat at a long table in a White House meeting room, near a large video screen beaming in Trudeau's image from Ottawa. A Canadian government source said there had been no progress on the possibility of Canada accessing COVID-19 vaccines produced in the United States. Canada is currently receiving doses from plants in Europe.

"We're focused on ourselves, the United States is focused on itself. They feel they have a supply shortage, so there is no news on that front," said the source, who requested anonymity given the sensitivity of the situation. REKINDLED ALLIANCE

Biden irritated Ottawa shortly after taking office on Jan. 20 by blocking the $8 billion Keystone XL pipeline project to pump oil-sand crude from Alberta to Nebraska and proposing a "Buy American" program aimed at directing more U.S. spending toward domestic manufacturers. But the two leaders made clear they wanted to put the dispute behind them and work together.

The meeting drew scrutiny as an early view of Biden diplomacy. "Everyone around the world is watching this meeting very closely. They will want to get what the Canadians got and they won't all succeed. This is the top level of access, the gold standard," a senior Western diplomat in Ottawa said. ""We feel we are off to the races here," the Canadian government source added.

Trudeau was the first world leader to congratulate Biden when the Democrat was declared the winner of the November election, illustrating the degree to which the close U.S. ally looks to move on from Trump's four years in office. The Republican former president, who often clashed with traditional allies on trade, imposed tariffs on Canadian aluminum and steel. He traveled only once to Canada for a G7 meeting in 2018 and blasted Trudeau for being "very dishonest and weak" after he left.

Trump also forced the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, talks that consumed Trudeau's government for years. Tuesday's session began with a 45-minute meeting between Biden, Harris, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, national security adviser Jake Sullivan and their Canadian counterparts.

Another meeting with more officials followed. Trudeau was accompanied by his finance minister, Chrystia Freeland, and others. The official said the White House had expected Trudeau to raise the issue of the two Canadians detained by Beijing and charged with espionage after Canada's detention of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of China's Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, on a U.S. arrest warrant.

Meng remains under house arrest. Biden also said the leaders would work closely to strengthen supply-chain security and resilience, and to drive a robust post-pandemic "economic recovery that benefits everyone, not just those at the top."

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)


TRENDING

OPINION / BLOG / INTERVIEW

Addressing conflict-related sexual violence at long last

... ...

Why unequal access to coronavirus vaccines is a threat to us all

... ...

India’s love affair with fossil fuels: the path to sustainable development?

... ...

Videos

Latest News

ACB raids premises, offices of 9 govt officials

Bengaluru, Mar 9 PTI The Anti Corruption Bureau on Tuesday raided the premises and offices of nine government employees in Karnataka for allegedly amassing of assets disproportionate to known sources of income.The ACB, in a release, said ra...

Russia reports fewer than 10,000 new COVID-19 cases for first time since October

Russia reported 9,445 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, the first time since early October that the daily tally has dropped below 10,000.That took the total number of coronavirus infections in Russia to 4,342,474.Authorities said 336 people ha...

Rajya Sabha reverts to regular slot

The Rajya Sabha on Tuesday reverted to its regular functioning hours after almost a year, with almost 60 percent of the present strength of MPs being seated in the chamber with some distancing.The Upper House started its day at its regular ...

S.Korea roiled by property scandal amid soaring house prices

Accusations that officials at South Koreas state housing corporation tried to use insider information to cash in on runaway property prices has thrown new fuel on an issue that is draining support from the ruling party ahead of key election...

Give Feedback