U.S. leadership ‘sorely missed’: Canadian PM Trudeau

U.S. President Joe Biden and Justin Trudeau had a virtual meeting that involved discussions on COVID-19, economic recovery, China, climate change and a swipe or two at the Trump administration by the Canadian PM

U.S. President Joe Biden had his first bilateral meeting — virtually — with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday, a meeting that involved discussions on COVID-19, economic recovery, China, climate change and a swipe or two at the Trump administration by Mr. Trudeau.

“U.S. leadership has been sorely missed over the past years,” Mr. Trudeau said from Ottawa via teleconference prior to the meeting. “And I have to say as we were preparing the joint rollout of the communiqué on this, it’s nice when the Americans are not pulling out all the references to climate change and instead adding them in.”

The Trump administration — which had pulled out nearly all references to climate change from the White House website shortly after Mr. Trump assumed office — had also pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Accord — a move reversed by Mr. Biden on his first day in office. The U.S. officially re-entered the Paris Agreement last Friday.

“Now that the United States is back in the Paris Agreement, we intend to demonstrate our leadership in order to spur other countries to raise their own ambitions,” Mr. Biden said following the meeting.

The President also called for the release of two Canadian citizens, Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, detained in China. Mr. Spavor, a businessman, and Mr. Kovig, a former diplomat, have been detained by China since December 2018 on charges of spying. Their detention came after Canada detained Meng Wanzhou, CFO of Chinese telecom giant Huawei, in response to a U.S. request.

“Human beings are not bartering chips,” Mr. Biden said. “You know, we’re going to work together until we get their safe return.”

“Canada and the United States will stand together against the abuse of universal rights and democratic freedoms. We’re going to strengthen our shared commitment to providing safe haven for refugees and asylum seekers, and so much more,” Mr. Biden said.

The two leaders also discussed strengthening the WHO and engaging with multilateral institutions to strengthen global norms, according to Mr. Biden.

“And we committed to work together to help prevent future biological threats by strengthening the World Health Organization, supporting our bold targets under the Global Health Security Agenda, cooperating on the Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons [and Materials] of Mass Destruction, and engaging in other multilateral institutions to promote transparency, build capacity, and strengthening global norms,” he said.

The Biden administration has begun reversing America’s retrenchment from its traditional alliances, including the transatlantic partnership. Mr. Biden said the two leaders had discussed bolstering transatlantic security.

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