EghtesadOnline: A political odd couple, US President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau resolutely played up their similarities at their first meeting on Monday, even as obvious differences lurked behind their public smiles.
Speaking to reporters, Trump defended his restrictive refugee and immigration orders, saying that “we cannot let the wrong people in”. Trudeau, on the other hand, said Canada continues to “pursue our policies of openness”, AP reported.
Trudeau later acknowledged that there are times when the two countries differ. But he said, “The last thing Canadians expect is for me to come down and lecture another country on how they chose to govern themselves.”
During their post-meeting news conference, the reporters Trump called on did not ask about two pressing issues of the day—the future of embattled National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and North Korea's reported ballistic missile launch, according to Financial Tribune.
The stakes for Trudeau in his Washington visit are high: He is seeking to ensure Canada is not crippled as Trump renegotiates the North American Free Trade Agreement. And he got much of what he was looking for.
Trump praised the “outstanding” trade relationship between the United States and Canada, and said he would only be “tweaking” it going forward.
“We'll be doing certain things that are going to benefit both of our countries. It's a much less severe situation than what's taking place on the southern border,” said Trump, who has been strongly critical of America's trade situation with Mexico.
Trade relations with the US are crucial to Canada as more than 75% of Canada's exports and 98% of its oil exports go to the US, while 18% of American exports go to Canada.
Trump already has been good for Canada as he has said he'll expedite the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. The pipeline from Alberta through America's midsection would carry more than one-fifth of the oil Canada exports to the United States.
Former president, Barack Obama, had opposed the pipeline, giving a major blow to Canada's oil industry.
Canada has the third largest known oil reserves in the world and needs infrastructure to export its growing oil sands production. The country is America's largest supplier of foreign oil.
In addition to private meetings, the leaders held a roundtable discussion with female executives from the US and Canada, and announced a task force focused on women in the workforce.
Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump was in attendance at the meeting and helped recruit participants and set the agenda, fresh evidence of her policy influence.
Michael Flynn Controversy
Later in the day, Trump's embattled national security adviser, Michael Flynn, resigned following reports he misled Vice President Mike Pence and other officials about his contacts with Russia.
His departure upends Trump's senior team after less than a month in office.
In a resignation letter, Flynn said he gave Pence and others "incomplete information" about his calls with Russia's ambassador to the US. The vice president, apparently relying on information from Flynn, initially said the national security adviser had not discussed sanctions with the Russian envoy, though Flynn later conceded the issue may have come up.
Trump named retired Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg as the acting national security adviser. Kellogg had previously been appointed the National Security Council chief of staff and advised Trump during the campaign. Trump is also considering former CIA Director David Petraeus and Vice Admiral Robert Harward, a US Navy SEAL, for the post, according to a senior administration official.
The Trump team's account of Flynn's discussions with the Russian envoy changed repeatedly over several weeks, including the number of contacts, the dates of those contacts and ultimately, the content of the conversations.