Obama, Trudeau mark better Canada ties with climate, trade accords

Thu Mar 10, 2016 4:41pm EST
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By David Ljunggren and Timothy Gardner

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama and new Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday ended a frosty period in bilateral ties by agreeing to tackle climate change and strive to settle a long-lasting trade dispute over Canadian softwood lumber exports.

The neighboring countries are traditionally close but relations had soured under former prime minister Stephen Harper, who hectored the White House in a failed bid to push through U.S. approval for the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

Obama and Trudeau, whose Liberals came to power last November promising better cooperation with Washington, pledged joint steps to fight global warming, including cutting methane emissions from oil and gas operations.

The countries committed to cutting emissions of methane by 40 to 45 percent below 2012 levels by 2025, to take steps to fight climate change in the Arctic, and to speed development of green technologies.

They also told officials to look for solutions to a lengthy dispute over exports of Canadian softwood lumber, as well as promising to make it easier for goods and people to cross the long shared border.

"I am grateful that I have him as a partner ... When it comes to the central challenges that we face, our two nations are more closely aligned than ever," Obama told a news conference after talks with Trudeau.

"The President and I agree on many things including, of paramount importance, the direction we want to take our countries in to ensure a clean and prosperous future," said Trudeau.

In another sign of friendlier bilateral ties, Trudeau invited Obama to address the Canadian Parliament this year.   Continued...

U.S. President Barack Obama (R) meets with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington March 10, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst