More policy, less pomp as Biden-Trudeau meet virtually

President Joe Biden’s first meeting with a foreign counterpart since taking office was high on policy and low on pomp Tuesday as the coronavirus forced him to convene virtually with Canada’s Justin Trudeau.

The two leaders — Biden in the Roosevelt Room at the White House and Trudeau in the prime minister’s office in Ottawa — delivered brief opening remarks in front of the media, with flags from both countries on display at both ends of the long-distance conversation.

“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 Donald Trump walked away from early in his term. The prime minister, who had a frosty relationship with Trump at times, also took a jab at Trump as he praised Biden.

“U.S. leadership has been sorely missed over the past years,” remarked Trudeau. “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 pre-pandemic times, such a meeting would have been held with far more fanfare: Biden welcoming the Canadian prime minister with great ceremony upon his arrival, an Oval Office talk between the two leaders, a joint news conference and perhaps a luncheon.

But with both leaders stressing caution to their citizens, Biden and Trudeau set aside the typical protocol and held their talks by video conference. U.S. presidents traditionally invite the Canadian prime minister for their first meeting with a world leader.

While cable stations in the United States stuck with breaking news about pro golfer Tiger Woods’ serious car crash, Canada’s CTV and CBC carried the leaders’ remarks live.

Vice President Kamala Harris, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and national security adviser Jake Sullivan and Juan Gonzales, National Security Council senior director for the Western Hemisphere, joined Biden for the meeting. Trudeau brought Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau, Canada’s ambassador to the United States, Kirsten Hillman, and chief of staff Katie Telford.

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Later, the two leaders were to hold an extended session that was to include several of Biden’s Cabinet-level advisers and Trudeau’s ministers.

The agenda includes the two countries’ COVID-19 responses, climate change, economic issues and more. Biden and Trudeau plan to deliver joint closing statements, with Biden appearing from the White House East Room, at the end of their meeting. The White House said the leaders also plan to issue a “road map” outlining how the neighboring countries will work together to fight COVID-19, curb climate emissions and pursue other shared priorities.

It was unclear whether Trudeau would again raise with the Democratic president the idea of allowing Canada, which is struggling to vaccinate its population, to buy vaccines from pharmaceutical giant Pfizer’s manufacturing facility in Michigan. Canada currently is getting vaccines shipped from a Pfizer plant in Belgium.

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Source:: Headlines News4jax

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