Biden, Trudeau to meet, albeit virtually

The virtual meeting will allow Biden (left) and Trudeau “to review joint efforts” on matters such as Covid-19 and climate change.
The virtual meeting will allow Biden (left) and Trudeau “to review joint efforts” on matters such as Covid-19 and climate change.PHOTOS: AFP, REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP, REUTERS) – Joe Biden will attend his first, albeit virtual, bilateral meeting as US president on Tuesday (Feb 23), with the honour going to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

It’s not Biden’s first time to prioritise his Canadian counterpart, who also received the new president’s first call to a foreign leader just two days after taking office.

The virtual meeting will allow the two “to review joint efforts” on matters such as Covid-19 and climate change, according to a White House statement issued on Saturday.

"The meeting will be an opportunity for the two leaders to review joint efforts in areas of mutual interest such as the Covid-19 response, climate change, and the economic ties that bind our countries, as well as the deep people-to-people bonds we share," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement.

The meeting with Trudeau will also extend to lower-level meetings between Cabinet ministers.

The White House did not mention the Keystone XL pipeline connecting the Alberta oil sands to coastal refineries in Texas, which became a highly sensitive issue after Biden decided to block its completion.

The project, which was supported by Ottawa but criticised by environmentalists, was launched in 2008, before being blocked by former president Barack Obama’s administration.

Under president Donald Trump, however, it was given the green light.

Biden campaigned in part on rescinding the Trump administration’s permit for the project, part of a larger promise to fight climate change.

Trudeau has expressed disappointment at Biden’s move to scrap the pipeline.