Nov. 18 (UPI) — President Joe Biden on Thursday hosted Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador at the White House for the first North American summit in five years.
The leaders were all physically present at the White House as they individually met with Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to discuss a range of issues such as trade and COVID-19.
Speaking alongside Trudeau, Biden described the partnership between the United States and Canada as “one of the easiest relationships you can have as an American president and one of the best.”
Biden hailed the work the two nations have done together on climate change, COVID-19, infrastructure and economic recovery.
“We see an opportunity not only to enhance the prospects of a better life for people around the world, but we can do it by the Build Back Better World, Build Back Better effort — that we can provide for the health needs as well,” he said.
Speaking with Obrador, Biden said he viewed the United States and Mexico as equals, while Obrador praised Biden’s plan to provide citizenship for more than 11 million undocumented migrants living in the United States.
Trudeau said early this week that the administration’s “buy American” strategy stifles economic cooperation with Canada.
“It’s an issue that I’ve already underlined very often with President Biden and it will certainly be part of important conversations that we’ll have later this week,” Trudeau said, according to The New York Times.
Asked about similar concerns expressed by the prime minister about a tax credit for electric vehicles included in his Build Back Better Act, Biden said the two leaders would discuss the issue, noting the plan has not yet been approved by Congress.
“I don’t know what we’re going to be dealing with, quite frankly, when it comes out of legislation. So, we’ll talk about it then,” he said.
Biden is expected to raise border issues with Mexico after thousands of Haitian refugees traveled through Mexico to cross the border in Texas in September.
“The conversation is going to be on economic cooperation, specifically promoting a secure and prosperous North America; building upon our efforts to manage the COVID-19 pandemic and promote global health security; and then, of course, our efforts to address the climate crisis,” the official said.
“Then finally … a coordinated approach to migration management.”
Biden on Thursday also said the United States was “considering” a boycott of the 2020 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
The three are also expected to affirm the Trump-era trade agreement that supports labor rights and pledge to share COVID-19 vaccines with poorer Latin America and Caribbean countries. They may also sign a climate agreement to reduce methane emissions.
Thursday’s will be the first “three amigos” summit since former President Barack Obama held one in 2016. Former President Donald Trump never staged the summit during his time in office.
“North America is a platform that is critical to both our domestic economic success and — as well as a partnership that can play a really critical role in resolving regional and global challenges,” a senior administration official told reporters.
“What you can expect … is that as we seek to deepen and expand our economic cooperation and security partnership with both countries, the president will also have separate bilateral meetings with each leader.”