WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden on Friday launched his first appeals to foreign leaders as Commander-in-Chief of the United States, calling on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador at a tense moment for state relations -United with their North American neighbors.
Biden’s appeal to Trudeau came after the Canadian Prime Minister this week expressed his disappointment at Biden’s decision – one of his first acts as president – to issue an executive order halting construction of the ‘Keystone XL pipeline. The long-contested project was to transport some 800,000 barrels of oil per day from the oil sands of Alberta to the Gulf Coast of Texas, passing through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma.
During their private conversation, Biden told Trudeau that by issuing the order, he was following a campaign promise to stop construction of the pipeline, a senior Canadian government official told The Associated Press. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the private conversation between the leaders of the nations.
Biden also spoke with López Obrador on Friday, days after the Mexican president accused the United States Drug Enforcement Administration of fabricating drug trafficking charges against the country’s former defense secretary.
As Mexico continues to pledge to block massive movements of Central American migrants to the US border, there is no shortage of potential flashpoints between the two countries.
Mexico has demanded the return of former Defense Secretary General Salvador Cienfuegos after his arrest in Los Angeles in October, threatening to restrict US agents in Mexico if he is not returned. US prosecutors have agreed to drop the charges and return Cienfuegos to Mexico.
But Mexico passed a law restricting foreign agents and lifting their immunity anyway, and continued to publish the US case against Cienfuegos, which Mexican prosecutors quickly wiped out of all charges.
López Obrador said in a statement that the conversation with Biden was “friendly and respectful”. The two discussed immigration and Covid-19, among others.
Trudeau told reporters ahead of Friday’s call that he would not allow his differences with Biden over the project to become a source of tension in relations between the United States and Canada.
“It won’t always be a perfect alignment with the United States,” Trudeau said. “This is the case with any president, but we are in a situation where we are much more aligned on values and focus. I look forward to working with President Biden. “
Biden signed the executive order to halt construction of the pipeline just hours after he was sworn in.
“Leaving the Keystone XL pipeline license in place would not be in line with the economic and climate imperatives of my administration,” Biden’s executive order said.
Critics say the increasing activities are increasing greenhouse gas emissions and threatening Alberta’s rivers and forests. On the US side, environmentalists have expressed concern that the pipeline – which would cross the Ogallala Aquifer, one of the largest underground freshwater deposits in the world – was too risky.
But supporters of the project say it would create thousands of jobs on both sides of the border.
The project was proposed in 2008, and the pipeline has become emblematic of the tensions between economic development and the reduction of fossil fuel emissions that cause climate change. The Obama administration rejected it, but President Donald Trump revived it and was a staunch supporter. Construction has already started.
Biden and Trudeau also discussed the prospects for supplying Canada with the Covid-19 vaccine from pharmaceutical giant Pfizer’s facility in Kalamazoo, Mich., According to a second senior Canadian government official, who spoke under cover of anonymity to describe a private conversation.
Canada received all of its doses of Pfizer from a Pfizer facility in Puurs, Belgium, but Pfizer has informed Canada that it will not receive any doses next week and that it will get 50% less than expected over the next week. next three weeks. Ontario Premier Doug Ford has publicly asked Biden to share a million doses manufactured at Pfizer’s Michigan facility.
The US federal government has reached an agreement with Pfizer that the first 100 million doses of the vaccine produced in the United States will be the property of the United States government and will be distributed in the United States Anita Anand, Canada’s Federal Minister of Procurement, said the doses that leave the Michigan plant are intended for distribution in the United States.
The two leaders also spoke widely on trade, defense and climate issues. Trudeau also raised the case of two Canadians imprisoned in China in apparent retaliation for the arrest of a senior Huawei executive who was apprehended in Canada on a US extradition request, according to the prime minister’s office.