Leaders of U.S., Canada, Mexico hold first summit since 2016

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North America’s leaders are reviving three-way summitry after a Trump-era break.

President Joe Biden welcomed Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for a bilateral meeting Thursday before meeting Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

"This is one of the easiest relationships you can have as an American president," Biden declared at the start of their Oval Office meeting. "One of the best."

"We’ve got a lot, a lot of work to continue to do," Trudeau replied – pointing to climate change, COVID challenges and rebuilding economies.

The three leaders will convene later Thursday for the tradition of the North America Leaders’ Summit, with all three allies face deep differences on migration, climate and trade.

The White House meetings will be the first trilateral get-together for North American leaders since a June 2016 gathering of Trudeau, Barack Obama and Enrique Peña Nieto in Ottawa. The gatherings took a hiatus under President Donald Trump, who feuded with Trudeau and Nieto during his tenure.

Biden has made some progress in repairing relations with U.S. neighbors after the turbulent Trump years. But many significant strains remain — and some new ones have emerged.

Trudeau arrived in Washington with concerns about buy-American provisions in the president’s proposed $1.85 trillion social services plan. Mexico’s priorities heading into the summit were to obtain concrete advances on immigration and more equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.

The tradition of three-way meetings started when George W. Bush played host to Mexico’s Vicente Fox and Canada’s Paul Martin in 2005 for talks at his ranch in Waco, Texas.

Biden has already held separate virtual meetings with Trudeau in February and López Obrador in March.