Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Trudeau and Trump try to bridge some gaps while avoiding others

WASHINGTON — Despite sharp differences on immigration, refugees, trade and climate change, President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada struck a cordial tone in their first meeting on Monday, alternating between attempting to bridge those gaps and steering clear of them.

Trump has called for a halt to the admission of refugees, saying that terrorists might slip into the United States among them, while Trudeau has held out Canada as a haven for refugees, particularly people who have fled the war in Syria, publicly hugging newly arrived families.

But when asked at a White House news conference whether he now sees the northern U.S. border with Canada as insecure, Trump skirted the question, speaking instead of his administration's efforts to deport criminals from the United States.

In the same vein, Trudeau declined to say whether he agreed with the president's executive order restricting immigration.

"The last thing Canadians expect is for me to come down and lecture another country on how they choose to govern themselves," he said.

Maintaining the country's close political and economic ties with the United States was top of the Canadian leader's agenda before his visit to Washington. Trudeau had forged an unusually close relationship with former President Barack Obama, but many of Trump's policies, particularly his protectionist stance on trade and his call for renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement, are chilling for Canadians. They count on trade with the United States for about 25 percent of their country's gross domestic product.

"It is a real concern for many Canadians, because we know that our economy is very dependent on our bonds with the United States," said Trudeau, who has expressed a cautious openness to renegotiating the trade pact.

Trump's complaints about trade have focused primarily on Mexico, another partner in the North American agreement, and China, which he has accused of taking advantage of the United States. He did not answer a question about whether he sees Canada as a fair trader, but suggested that he does not foresee deep changes in that relationship, which he called "outstanding."

"We'll be tweaking it," he said. "It's a much less severe situation than what's taking place on the southern border."

He said the two leaders had spoken privately about "doing some cross-border things that will make it a lot easier for trade and a lot better and a lot faster." They issued a joint statement pledging to continue border security programs that began under Obama, and reaffirming their commitment to NATO, an alliance that Trump had previously questioned.

In presentation and speech, Trump, a bombastic Republican, and Trudeau, a more mild-mannered Liberal who is 25 years younger, are poles apart. But the prime minister has carefully avoided direct criticism of Trump and his policies. After the U.S. election, he reorganized his Cabinet to better deal with the change of power in Washington and swiftly sent emissaries to meet with Trump's advisers. The meeting on Monday was to be the first test of the Canadian leader's effort to at least foster a good working relationship between the two men.

Trump greeted Trudeau warmly on Monday, a reception similar to the president's greeting last week to Shinzo Abe, Japan's prime minister. The leaders shook hands heartily when Trudeau arrived at the White House, patting each other on the shoulder with their free hands. Trudeau hoped to avoid the apparent terse treatment showed Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull of Australia in a phone call late last month.

Trudeau appears determined to maintain friendly relations with Trump despite their differences, while signaling to Canadians who are wary of their powerful neighbor that Canada still charts its own course.

"We continue our policy of openness to immigration and refugees without compromising security," the prime minister said. "There have been times where we have differed in our approaches, and that's always been done firmly and respectfully."

Trudeau presented the president with a framed photograph taken in the 1980s, showing Trump speaking at the head of a table of people including Pierre Elliott Trudeau, a former Liberal prime minister of Canada and the current prime minister's father.

The Cabinet ministers who traveled with Justin Trudeau Monday had prepared for meetings with their U.S. counterparts by emphasizing the importance of the cross-border relationship to Canadians. Chrystia Freeland, Canada's foreign minister, had reminded Trump administration officials that trade between the two countries is roughly in balance, and that Canada is the largest buyer of U.S. exports from 35 states.

"The combination of Canada being smaller and the United States being bigger and the relationship largely being trouble-free means a lot of Americans don't spend a lot of time thinking about Canada," Freeland said in a recent interview. "Americans are not always fully aware of the economic significance of the relationship."

President Donald Trump greets Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau upon his arrival at the White House in Washington, Monday, Feb. 13, 2017. [Associated Press]

President Donald Trump greets Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau upon his arrival at the White House in Washington, Monday, Feb. 13, 2017. [Associated Press]

Trudeau and Trump try to bridge some gaps while avoiding others 02/13/17 [Last modified: Monday, February 13, 2017 6:01pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Record $417 million awarded in lawsuit linking baby powder to cancer

    Nation

    LOS ANGELES — A Los Angeles jury on Monday ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay a record $417 million to a hospitalized woman who claimed in a lawsuit that the talc in the company's iconic baby powder causes ovarian cancer when applied regularly for feminine hygiene.

    A bottle of Johnson's baby powder is displayed. On Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, a Los Angeles County Superior Court spokeswoman confirmed that a jury has ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $417 million in a case to a woman who claimed in a lawsuit that the talc in the company's iconic baby powder causes ovarian cancer when applied regularly for feminine hygiene. [Associated Press]
  2. Search under way for missing sailors; Navy chief orders inquiry

    Military

    SINGAPORE — The U.S. Navy ordered a broad investigation Monday into the performance and readiness of the Pacific-based 7th Fleet after the USS John S. McCain collided with an oil tanker in Southeast Asian waters, leaving 10 U.S. sailors missing and others injured.

    Damage is visible as the USS John S. McCain steers toward Singapore’s naval base on Monday.
  3. Told not to look, Donald Trump looks at the solar eclipse

    National

    Of course he looked.

    Monday's solar eclipse — life-giving, eye-threatening, ostensibly apolitical — summoned the nation's First Viewer to the Truman Balcony of the White House around 2:38 p.m. Eastern time.

    The executive metaphor came quickly.

    President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump view the solar eclipse from the Truman balcony of the White House, in Washington, Aug. 21, 2017. [Al Drago | New York Times]
  4. Secret Service says it will run out of money to protect Trump and his family Sept. 30

    National

    WASHINGTON — The Secret Service said Monday that it has enough money to cover the cost of protecting President Donald Trump and his family through the end of September, but after that the agency will hit a federally mandated cap on salaries and overtime unless Congress intervenes.

    Secret service agents walk with President Donald Trump after a ceremony to welcome the 2016 NCAA Football National Champions the Clemson Tigers on the South Lawn of the White House on June 12, 2017. [Olivier Douliery | Sipa USA via TNS]
  5. After fraught debate, Trump to disclose new Afghanistan plan

    War

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump will unveil his updated Afghanistan policy Monday night in a rare, prime-time address to a nation that broadly shares his pessimism about American involvement in the 16-year conflict. Although he may send a few thousand more troops, there are no signs of a major shift in …

    U.S. soldiers patrol the perimeter of a weapons cache near the U.S. military base in Bagram, Afghanistan in 2003. Sixteen years of U.S. warfare in Afghanistan have left the insurgents as strong as ever and the nation's future precarious. Facing a quagmire, President Donald Trump on Monday will outline his strategy for a country that has historically snared great powers and defied easy solutions.  [Associated Press (2003)]