Published: Fri, February 26, 2021
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Coronavirus forces Biden to forgo pomp for U.S.-Canada meeting

Coronavirus forces Biden to forgo pomp for U.S.-Canada meeting

The U.S. and Canada will host a "high-level summit" on Wednesday about climate change, according to U.S. officials, who described it as the first diplomatic initiative for the Biden administration as it seeks to put the issue back at the top of the U.S. foreign policy agenda.

Kerry and Canadian Minister of Environment and Climate Change Jonathan Wilkinson will co-host Wednesday's meetings, and the talks will also focus on monitoring and addressing shared environmental threats and on aligning USA and Canadian policies and regulations on oil and gas, transportation, and other sectors.

Canadians also have been angered that their government has been unable to secure COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna at plants close to the Canada-U.S. border, being relegated instead to ordering from Europe. "We're going to work together until we get their safe return", Biden said after the meeting, although he did not offer specifics on how the USA would help beyond reaffirming his commitment to stand out against human rights abuse.

Biden, in a virtual address Friday to the annual Munich Security Conference, said it was a critical time for the world's democracies to "prove that our model isn't a relic of our history".

Canada alleges that the men were arrested as retribution for the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou on a United States warrant. Meng denies the allegations.

Trudeau is nonetheless expected to ask for fewer restrictions on USA vaccine exports, since Canada has been squeezed by production problems in Europe, and for more help in bringing Spavor and Kovrig home.

Trudeau's broadside of Trump was a notable coda to a relationship marked by some notably undiplomatic moments.

Canadian officials expect Trudeau to have a far more productive relationship with Biden than he did with Donald Trump. Biden and Trudeau will deliver brief remarks to reporters as they begin their meeting with Vice President Harris, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and national security adviser Jake Sullivan, and their Canadian counterparts.

But with both leaders stressing caution to their citizens, Biden and Trudeau set aside the typical protocol in favor talks by video conference.

During his first week in office, Biden issued an executive order addressing northern border restrictions, calling for USA departments to work with Canadian agencies and develop a plan to be delivered within 14-days.

"Canada and the United States are going to work in lockstep to display the seriousness of our commitment at both home and overseas".

Part of that recommitment to the world will include an announcement that the US will donate $4 billion to a global initiative to distribute vaccine doses to poor countries, the White House said Thursday.

It was unclear whether Trudeau would again raise with the Democratic president the idea of allowing Canada, which is struggling to vaccinate its population, to buy vaccines from pharmaceutical giant Pfizer's manufacturing facility in MI. Canada now is receiving Pfizer vaccines shipped from a plant in Belgium.

The U.S. president will speak specifically about "malign" and concerted action he believes Russian Federation has taken to destabilize and undermine democracy in the United States and Europe and elsewhere, and will call on allies to stand firm with Washington, the official said.

Both Trudeau's office and the press secretary for President Joe Biden issued statements saying the two leaders plan to convene virtually on Tuesday.

On his first day in office, Biden signed an executive order canceling a Calgary company's construction permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline, a victory for environmental activists that Trudeau said left him "disappointed".

Biden and Trudeau are also expected to make remarks following the meetings.

There have been flashpoints since Biden took office.

Pfizer has said it will provide the US government with 100 million doses by the end of March and 100 million more by May. And just in December, the European Union signed a major investment treaty with China, much to the chagrin of the new Biden government, which would have liked to discuss it further.

Canada is the largest supplier of all forms of energy to the U.S.

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