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Trudeau tells Biden US leadership has been 'sorely missed'

ABC News logo ABC News 2/24/2021
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President Joe Biden held his first bilateral meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Tuesday afternoon and reiterated the close relationship between the two countries, saying there was "no closer friend" for the U.S. than Canada.

Trudeau echoed that sentiment saying the two countries' relationship "has not just weathered changing seasons, it has grown ever deeper and stronger."

Following some "good meetings" with Trudeau, Biden gave reporters a readout of the agreements between the two countries.

Joe Biden in a suit and tie: President Joe Biden speaks after holding a virtual meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in the East Room of the White House, Feb. 23, 2021. © Evan Vucci/AP President Joe Biden speaks after holding a virtual meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in the East Room of the White House, Feb. 23, 2021.

He first addressed the coronavirus pandemic, saying the two countries would work to prevent future outbreaks by strengthening the World Health Organization following the United States re-engagement with the group and that they agreed to work together on an "inclusive" recovery from the virus.

"Women are dropping out of work -- the workforce -- at alarming rates. Black, Latino and Native are also -- and other minorities are particularly hard hit," the president said. "We also agreed to work together on an inclusive recovery, using the tools available through the small and medium enterprise chapter of our trade agreement, to support the women and minority owned business."

Justin Trudeau, Joe Biden are posing for a picture © Evan Vucci/AP MORE: Snapshots of some of the 500,000 lives lost to COVID-19 in the US

Trudeau said he and Biden share the common value of standing up for the middle class and used the energy sector as an example of each country helping each other.

"With millions of families relying on the Canada-U.S. partnership, this is work we must do together. Just take the energy industry, Canadian energy workers power homes on both sides of the border," the prime minister said. "It goes to show that we're all better off for this partnership."

a group of people sitting around a living room: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets virtually with President Joe Biden, from his office on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa, Ontario, Feb. 23, 2021. © Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press via AP Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets virtually with President Joe Biden, from his office on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa, Ontario, Feb. 23, 2021.

The president also addressed the looming concerns over climate change, saying both countries committed to "up the ante" on the issue now that the U.S. officially rejoined the Paris agreement on Friday and will encourage other countries to also increase ambitions.

MORE: 'The decisive decade': Biden climate envoy John Kerry sounds alarm as US rejoins Paris climate accord

Ahead of the bilateral meetings, Trudeau welcomed the U.S. back to the world stage, saying the country's leadership has been "sorely missed" and, in a veiled swipe at the Trump administration, made reference to repeated times they removed references to climate change from joint statements.

Biden laid out a number of initiatives the two countries agreed to work together on, including reestablishing the cross-border crime forum and ending racism and discrimination in both country's systems. The president also pledged the two countries would work together to better compete with China -- calling on the country to release two Canadian citizens currently being detained, Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig. They were first detained in December 2018 after Canada detained Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou on extradition charges to the United States.

a group of people sitting at a table: President Joe Biden holds a virtual bilateral meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Feb. 23, 2021, in Washington. © Evan Vucci/AP President Joe Biden holds a virtual bilateral meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Feb. 23, 2021, in Washington.

"Human beings are not bartering chips. You know, we're gonna work together until we get their safe return. Canada and the United States will stand together against abuse of universal rights and democratic freedoms. And we are going to strengthen our shared commitment to providing a safe haven for refugees and asylum seekers and so much more," Biden said.

The two leaders did not take questions from reporters.

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