Canadian PM to skip US-Mexico meeting in Washington, DC

Trudeau cites possible US tariffs and the coronavirus as reasons not to attend meeting of US, Mexico presidents.

    Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, seen here speaking in the House of Commons in Ottawa, said he would be attending a meeting of parliament instead of meeting with United States President Donald Trump and Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in Washington, DC, the US [File: Blair Gable/Reuters]
    Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, seen here speaking in the House of Commons in Ottawa, said he would be attending a meeting of parliament instead of meeting with United States President Donald Trump and Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in Washington, DC, the US [File: Blair Gable/Reuters]

    Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will not visit Washington, DC with Mexico's president this week to celebrate a new North American trade deal, his office said on Monday, after Canada raised concerns over potential United States aluminium tariffs.

    In a Monday-morning phone call, Trudeau told Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador he hoped the talks with US President Donald Trump would be successful.

    Lopez Obrador, who had urged Trudeau to join him, is due to meet Trump at the White House on Wednesday on his first trip outside of Mexico since taking office 19 months ago.

    Trudeau will be attending Cabinet meetings and a sitting of parliament in Ottawa, his office said in a statement.

    "We wish the United States and Mexico well at Wednesday's meeting," the statement said.

    Trudeau last week said he was not sure about attending, citing tensions over possible US tariffs on Canadian aluminium. Trudeau also flagged concerns over the novel coronavirus.

    In their call, Trudeau "expressed regret" to Lopez Obrador that he could not go to Washington, DC, Trudeau's office said.

    Their discussion also touched on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) trade deal that went into effect last week, efforts to fight the coronavirus pandemic, and investment in renewable energy infrastructure.

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    The two leaders expressed interest in meeting in person, Trudeau's office said, without providing further detail.

    Lopez Obrador said Trudeau was invited to Mexico, and after their call announced that the Canadian prime minister had agreed to visit the country "as soon as possible".

    Lopez Obrador said he will undergo a coronavirus test before leaving Mexico on Tuesday, and was prepared to have another in the US if necessary. Lopez Obrador said he plans to return to Mexico from Washington, DC on Thursday.

    SOURCE: Reuters news agency