Biden to meet virtually with Trudeau on Tuesday in first meeting with a foreign leader

U.S. President Joe Biden’s first official meeting with a foreign head of government will be a virtual encounter on Tuesday with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“The president will highlight the strong and deep partnership between the United States and Canada as neighbours, friends and NATO allies,” the White House said in a statement on Saturday.

The Prime Minister’s Office said meeting agenda items include the COVID-19 pandemic, economic recovery, job creation, maintaining cross-border supply chains, climate change, energy, defence and security, and diversity and inclusion.

In a statement, Trudeau said he looked forward to the meeting and working with Biden to end the pandemic. 

The lengthy video meeting is expected to last more than one hour and will include a one-on-one chat between the leaders, as well as an expanded session between U.S. and Canadian cabinet members and officials. 

The U.S. president’s Keystone XL pipeline cancellation is expected to come up but will not likely be a main focus of the meeting. 

The detention of Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor in China is also expected to be raised by Trudeau, according to a source who spoke to CBC News confidentially.

Cross-border tensions won’t disappear

Biden has already had a series of phone conversations with a number of leaders, starting with Trudeau, shortly after his Jan. 20 inauguration.

The new administration has signalled its desire to improve relationships with traditional American partners by scheduling his first calls, and now a first meeting, with the country’s democratic allies. 

But the first weeks of the Biden administration have illustrated how cross-border irritants have not, and will not, disappear with a change in president. 

The new administration has cancelled a major pipeline project from Canada; promised a Buy American policy in its infrastructure purchases — though it’s still unclear how extensive that policy will be; and continued former president Donald Trump’s export restrictions on vaccines produced in the United States.

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