President Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau agreed to meet next month as Washington and Ottawa seek a reset in relations after four years of tension.
Biden and Trudeau spoke over the phone Friday in Biden’s first call with a foreign leader since he took office Wednesday. Trudeau’s office said in a readout of the conversation that the two agreed to “meet next month in order to advance the important work of renewing the deep and enduring friendship between Canada and the United States.”
It was not immediately clear if the meeting would be in-person or virtual. The White House’s readout of the conversation said the two “agreed to speak again in a month,” and White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday that it would be “a bit of time” before Biden’s first foreign trip.
Canada has historically been the first foreign trip for any new U.S. president.
The two readouts said Biden and Trudeau spoke on an array of issues, chiefly the need to combat the coronavirus pandemic and bolster cooperation between the U.S. and Canada on other issues such as climate change and strengthening economic cooperation.
“The Prime Minister and the President recognized that both countries’ fundamental priority is to end the global COVID-19 pandemic. They discussed collaboration on vaccines and acknowledged that the two countries’ efforts are strengthened by existing exchanges of medical personnel and the flow of critical medical supplies,” according to the Canadian readout of the call. “The two leaders discussed working closely together to defeat COVID-19 by responding to new variants and following expert advice.
“The Prime Minister and President discussed their shared vision for sustainable economic recovery, creating jobs, and growing the middle class,” it continued. “To that end, they discussed strengthening Canada-U.S. supply chain security and resilience.”
The White House also said Biden “acknowledged Prime Minister Trudeau’s disappointment regarding the decision to rescind the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, and reaffirmed his commitment to maintain an active bilateral dialogue and to further deepen cooperation with Canada.”
Biden signed an executive order this week scrapping a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, the controversial 1,200-mile structure that carried oil from Canada to the U.S. Climate activists had panned the project, saying the pipeline would carry oil made from tar sands — whose production is carbon intensive — over sacred indigenous lands.
Despite the early disagreement over the Keystone XL pipeline, both Biden and Trudeau have voiced a desire to normalize relations that were roiled under former President Trump.
The previous administration adopted a more adversarial stance with Ottowa, slapping tariffs on Canadian products and insisting on scrapping the North American Free Trade Agreement and replacing it with a new deal. Trump also panned Trudeau as “very dishonest and weak,” and Peter Navarro, Trump’s trade adviser, once said “there’s a special place in hell” for the prime minister.
“We have so much alignment — not just me and President Biden, but Canadians and President Biden,” Trudeau said at a press briefing earlier Friday. “I’m very much looking forward to working with President Biden.”