Biden (photo) and Trudeau will address several mutual priorities, including combating climate change and accelerating the North American economy Image: Saul Loeb / AFP
Washington, Feb 23, 2021 (AFP) – American President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will map out a “roadmap” on Tuesday (23) to rebuild relations between the United States and Canada in its first bilateral meeting, said a senior official, although the cancellation of the Keystone pipeline could present an obstacle.
Following the turmoil of Donald Trump’s presidency, Biden hopes to use his well-known personal connection skills in a face-to-face meeting with the leader of the key Northern ally.
The meeting, however, will be virtual due to the coronavirus pandemic, letting neighboring states try to lean on their common values from afar rather than personally, said a senior US government official on the eve of Biden’s first bilateral event as president .
“I believe that the most important result of the trip, or the meeting, will be essentially (…) a roadmap to revitalize the collaboration between the United States and Canada,” said the official on Monday.
The announcements about “next steps” will involve multiple areas such as diplomacy, transportation, infrastructure and combating covid-19, the official said.
Biden and Trudeau will address a number of mutual priorities, including combating climate change, accelerating North America’s economy, the Arctic and threats to democracy in Myanmar and Venezuela.
“Being on the same page on a number of issues, such as climate change or economic reactivation, we can do more together,” said Trudeau’s office, mentioning similar topics.
But the two will also tackle the thorny issue of China’s “unfair economic practices”, its human rights record and the continued detention of two Canadian citizens in Beijing, according to the senior American official.
Former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor were arrested in China in 2018 in what was considered a likely reprisal for the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou that year by an order from the United States.
“We certainly expect the Prime Minister to mention it and the President is ready to discuss it,” said the official.
The official did not address how ties between the United States and Canada may have been damaged during the four years of the Trump administration, choosing to highlight the various “shared interests” between the two countries.
A critical point that is likely to emerge is Biden’s decision to cancel permission for the Keystone XL pipeline, a project that environmentalists are fiercely opposed to, but which has Ottawa’s support.
Biden withdrew his permission with an executive order issued on his first day in office, fulfilling a campaign commitment, and “the decision will not be reconsidered,” said the official.
The summit begins with a 45-minute closed-door bilateral meeting with Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and national security adviser Jake Sullivan, along with their Canadian counterparts.
Then it will be open for broader bilateral discussion.