Virus forces Biden, Trudeau into virtual meeting

The Associated Press
Updated: February 23, 2021 05:30 PM
Created: February 23, 2021 11:18 AM

The coronavirus pandemic forced President Joe Biden to alter another first for his administration: the typically formal White House meeting with a foreign counterpart.

Biden hosted virtual talks with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday for the first bilateral meeting of his presidency. U.S. presidents traditionally invite the Canadian prime minister for their first meeting with a world leader.

"The United States has no closer friend, no closer friends in Canada. That's why you were my first call as president, my first bilateral meeting. And of course, my vice president spent some time living up in Montreal for high school. And so our channel of communication is wide open," Biden said.

Biden was in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, flanked by Vice-President Kamala Harris and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. Trudeau, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland and Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau took part in the meeting from Ottawa.

The two leaders exchanged warm greetings, despite the fact that the bilateral summit was being held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Trudeau was effusive in his praise of Biden's agenda on climate change, noting that U.S. leadership on the file had been absent for the last four years.

"U.S. leadership has been sorely missed over the past past years. And I have to say, as far as we are preparing the joint rollout and communique from this one, it's nice when the Americans are not pulling out all references to climate change," Trudeau said.

The agenda also included the two countries' COVID-19 responses, economic issues, refugees and migration.

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