- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 20, 2021

President Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Saturday they will participate in a virtual bilateral meeting next week to discuss issues including the coronavirus pandemic.

The bilateral meeting, set for Tuesday, is scheduled to be the first between Mr. Biden and a foreign leader since the newly inaugurated president was sworn in roughly a month earlier on Jan. 20.

“I look forward to renewing the strong friendship between the United States and Canada and working to tackle the shared challenges we face,” Mr. Biden said after the meeting was announced.

Mr. Trudeau, Canada‘s leader since 2015, called that bond shared among North American neighbors “one of the strongest and deepest friendships” between any two nations in the world.

Both leaders will discuss ending the coronavirus pandemic, Mr. Trudeau said on the social media service Twitter, as well as growing the middle class, creating jobs and fighting climate change.

White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said in a statement announcing the meeting that Mr. Biden plans to highlight the partnership between the U.S. and Canada “as neighbors, friends and NATO Allies.”

“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,” Ms. Psaki said in the statement.

Mr. Biden and his cabinet will also meet virtually with Canada‘s ministers on a range of issues, the White House added.

The bilateral meeting, held virtually because of COVID-19, the contagious disease caused by the coronavirus, is scheduled to happen roughly a year since the outbreak emerged in both countries.

Discovered in late 2019 in Wuhan, China, COVID-19 has since infected around 111 million people worldwide including nearly 2.5 million that have died from the disease. Canada has reported around 843,000 COVID-19 cases since the outbreak began, including over 21,000 deaths. The U.S. has reported 28.1 million cases and nearly a half-million deaths, comparatively.

Mr. Biden previously spoke with Mr. Trudeau over the phone in late January during his first official call as president with a foreign counterpart. That conversation occurred days after Mr. Biden canceled the Keystone XL Pipeline project involving both countries — another issue likely to be addressed when they hold their virtual meeting Tuesday.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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