WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden is set to hold face-to-face talks with his fellow North American leaders next week in Washington, reviving a tradition that had been shelved during the Trump administration.
The White House on Wednesday announced plans for the Nov. 18 summit with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, billing the return of the trilateral meeting as a chance for the countries to “revitalize our leadership."
The meeting will be the first get-together for the North American leaders since 2016 in what had been near-annual summits between the North American neighbors. President Donald Trump, who had complicated relationships with the leaders of both countries, didn't host such talks.
Biden held separate virtual meetings with Trudeau in February and López Obrador in March. The Mexican leader also hosted Vice President Kamala Harris in Mexico City in June.
The White House said the upcoming meeting will reaffirm the countries' “strong ties and integration while also charting a new path for collaboration” on the coronavirus pandemic, climate change, immigration and economic growth.
Mexico Foreign Affairs Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said López Obrador would raise his concerns about the uneven distribution of vaccines and medical capacity in global fight against the coronavirus pandemic. He added the meeting also offered the leaders an opportunity to talk about a “common vision of the future."
“Where are we going? What do we have to do together? How do we achieve our common objectives? Well, this is the space to do it,” Ebrard said.
Trudeau’s office said priorities would include “finishing the fight against COVID-19, getting the job done on vaccines, tackling the climate crisis, creating new middle class jobs, building an economic recovery that works for everyone, and migration.”
Biden has tried to stabilize relations with both nations after ties became frosty under Trump, who feuded with Trudeau on trade and other issues. Trump angered Mexican leaders with anti-immigrant taunts and his administration's effort to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
In 2018, Trump took to Twitter to label Trudeau “dishonest and weak” after the prime minister voiced objections to Trump raising tariffs on steel and aluminum from Canada, Mexico and the European Union.
Trump blew up again at Trudeau in 2019, calling him “two-faced” after Trudeau was caught on video mocking the American president as he spoke to other world leaders on the sidelines of a NATO conference in England.
The Biden and Trudeau administrations worked closely to pave the way for the September release of Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, who were arrested in China in December 2018. The two businessman were taken into custody shortly after Canada arrested Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer and the daughter of the company’s founder, on a U.S. extradition request.
Meng reached an agreement with prosecutors that called for fraud charges against her to be dismissed next year and allowed for her to return to China immediately. As part of the deal, she accepted responsibility for misrepresenting the company’s business dealings in Iran. About an hour after Meng’s plane left Canada for China, Trudeau revealed that Kovrig and Spavor were also on their way home.
Trump's signature campaign promise was building a wall across the length of the U.S.-Mexico border. Leaked conversations showed Trump hectoring López Obrador’s predecessor, Enrique Peña Nieto, against publicly saying that Mexico would never pay for such a barrier.
López Obrador appeared to reach a one-issue understanding with Trump: Mexico stopped the flow of Central American migrants trying to reach the U.S. border. In turn, Trump often ignored other issues in the complicated relationship.
Plans for the three leaders' meeting were first reported by Reuters.
Associated Press writers Christopher Sherman in Mexico City and Rob Gillies in Toronto contributed reporting.