Joe Biden spoke with Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau on a variety of topics Friday in his first call to a foreign leader as US president and made arrangements to continue the discussion next month, Ottawa and Washington said in separate statements.
The two leaders discussed everything from the coronavirus pandemic, which has contributed to the closure of the U.S.-Canada border since March, to environmental protection, during the meeting, which Canada said lasted about 30 minutes.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador reported on Twitter that he and Biden had discussed issues ranging from Covid-19 to migration in a similar call Friday.
Trudeau and Biden intended to meet again soon, with the prospect of a virtual or even in-person meeting left open to Canada, although the White House said only that “the two leaders agreed to speak again in a month.”
The talks, the Canadian statement said, would “advance the important work of renewing the deep and enduring friendship between Canada and the United States.”
No exact date has been confirmed by either Washington or Ottawa.
The leaders addressed Biden’s decision to revoke the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, a proposal strongly opposed by environmentalists but supported by Ottawa, according to both nations.
Biden rescinded a permit for the pipeline by executive order upon taking office on Wednesday, delaying the completion of the project begun almost a decade ago.
Trudeau had previously said it was “an important project for us,” citing the security and employment of continental energy, and reacted with anger on Friday over its cancellation.
“The prime minister raised Canada’s disappointment with the United States’ decision on the Keystone XL pipeline,” Trudeau’s office said in its statement, but added that the prime minister emphasized the “important economic and energy security benefits of our bilateral energy relationship.”
The 1,210-mile (1,947-kilometer) pipeline was planned to carry up to 830,000 barrels of oil a day from the oil sands of Alberta to Nebraska and then to refineries in coastal Texas via an existing infrastructure.
-‘ Friendly and caring’ –
Lopez Obrador of Mexico wrote on Twitter that his talk with Biden was “friendly and respectful.”
“We talked on issues related to migration, #COVID19, and cooperation on development and well-being. Everything indicates that relations will be good for the well-being of our peoples and nations,” Lopez Obrador said
On Saturday, the Mexican president said that Biden had also told him of plans to launch a US aid program of $4 billion for Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras, the three impoverished countries that account for many of those who, most often via Mexico, are trying to migrate to the United States.
The White House has refused to explain.
In 2019, upset by the influx of Central American immigrants, then-President Donald Trump froze a $450 million assistance initiative aimed at reducing violence and improving conditions in the three nations.
‘A modern century,’ –
The United States-Mexico-Canada Deal, which replaced the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), is binding on a single market for almost half a billion customers.
It accounts for around 27% of global GDP, but that was before the coronavirus pandemic struck in an area where trade reached $1.2 trillion in 2019.
Prior to the call, Trudeau said the new administration was an opportunity to turn the page on a challenging relationship with the US under Trump, who once described Trudeau as “dishonest” and “meek.”
“We are truly beginning a new era of friendship,” he said.
The White House said the pair’s Friday phone call highlighted “the strategic importance of the US-Canada relationship” while “reinvigorating our bilateral cooperation on an ambitious and wide-ranging agenda.”
SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN