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Trump-Trudeau talks is lesson in diplomacy

Trump-Trudeau talks is lesson in diplomacyAfter Donald Trump took the office of U.S. president in January, he continues to host world leaders as he has met with his Canadian counterpart, American liberal icon Justin Trudeau on Monday.

Following their White House meeting, the North American leaders hailed their close ties, with Trump promising to “build upon our very historic friendship” and Trudeau noting the “special” bond between the countries.

Still even before the meeting Trump didn’t see eye to eye with Trudeau on a range of issues, from social policies to refugees. And it was hard to escape their contrasting worldviews afterwards.

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.”

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.”

One of the main points in Trudeau's Washington visit was seeking to ensure Canada is not crippled as Trump re-negotiates 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 U.S. are crucial to Canada as more than 75 percent of Canada’s exports and 98 percent of its oil exports go to the U.S., while 18 percent of American exports go to Canada.

Monday’s meeting was billed as one the most important for a Canadian leader with a U.S. president in decades because of Canada’s heavy reliance on its southern neighbor.

In addition to private meetings, the leaders held a roundtable discussion with female executives from the U.S. 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.

Trudeau’s Canadian administration suggested the task force as a way to work on a shared interest. Dina Powell, assistant to the president and senior counselor for economic initiatives, worked to set up the event, along with Katie Telford, Trudeau’s chief of staff and Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland.

Trudeau said the task force was “about understanding that women in leadership positions is a very powerful leverage for success, for business, for communities and for our entire economy.”
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