U.S. President Joe Biden will land in Ottawa on Thursday for a two-day visit with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau where several issues will be discussed.
Biden’s visit will be his first as president, making the trip up north for the first time since being sworn into the top job in 2021.
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The neighbouring nations have had a long history of collaboration, and on Wednesday Trudeau offered a hint of what will be at the “centre” of his conversations with Biden.
“Obviously, we’re going to be talking about a lot of things,” he told reporters in Ottawa.
“Of course, we’ll talking about China, but the centre of our conversations will be about jobs and growth, critical minerals and fighting climate change, and continuing to build an economy across the continent that works for all of our citizens.”
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When the White House confirmed Biden’s trip earlier this month, it said the topics that will be discussed include continued support for Ukraine in the face of Russia’s invasion, the instability in Haiti, supply chain resilience and the ongoing opioid overdose epidemic in both countries, according to the statement.
The prime minister’s office said in an earlier statement that the two leaders will also discuss co-operation on climate action and the economy.
“Canada and the United States are allies, neighbours, and most importantly, friends,” Trudeau said in a statement. “I look forward to welcoming President Biden to Canada.”
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Another top issue will be modernizing NORAD, the shared continental air defence network, which is back in the spotlight after the appearance of a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon that hovered over Canada and the U.S. last month.
That object and three others detected over North America days afterward — all of which were shot down by the U.S. — has led to new scrutiny over NORAD’s surveillance and defence capabilities, as well as its current limitations.
Both the U.S. and Canada have committed to updating and strengthening NORAD over the coming years, as well as developing new tools to detect and defend against new threats like the surveillance balloon.
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Furthermore, both leaders are likely to discuss the irregular migrant crossings at Roxham Road at the Quebec-New York border. Trudeau said in French that the government is working with the U.S. to “fix the situation” at the crossing, and that negotiations are ongoing.
Biden last visited Canada in December 2016, when he was vice-president in the Obama administration.
The last time a sitting American president was in Canada was when Donald Trump came to Quebec for the G7 Leaders’ Summit in June 2018.
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Canada is normally one of the first foreign trips for a new president, but Biden’s visit has been delayed, in part due to COVID-19. Biden was elected president in late 2020.
Trudeau and Biden have spoken and met repeatedly since then, most recently during the North American Leaders’ Summit with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador in Mexico City in January.
— with files from Sean Boynton
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