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Leaders of the US, Canada, and Mexico met after a five-year gap. While they emphasized cooperation, tensions were raised about the auto industry, Biden's "Buy American" policies and a Mexican energy bill.
US President Joe Biden hosted Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Thursday for a North American summit aiming to revitalize regional cooperation.
Biden said the three leaders were committed to providing a better future, and to "creating the conditions for prosperity, sustainability, and security."
The talks were aimed at finding common ground among the three neighbors for the United States-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) free trade agreement.
Trudeau and Obrador both met Biden and US Vice President Kamala Harris separately. Biden then held talks with both the leaders together, together known as the "Three Amigos."
Points of contention were differences on the auto industry, Biden's "Buy American" policies and a Mexican energy bill.
Biden called the US-Canada relationship one of the easiest ones, but there were tensions about the proposed electric vehicle tax incentives in the US. Trudeau said on Twitter the two spoke of "Ending the pandemic, building back better, managing the border, taking climate action, and growing the middle class."
Trudeau has criticized the "Buy American" policies, but noted that the US and Canada were now aligned, in a stark contrast to their relationship during the term of former US President Donald Trump.
Rebuilding ties with other nations has been a major goal of the Biden administration, after Trump's policies that alienated many former allies.
The leaders were set to agree on cutting methane emissions and donate vaccine doses to other nations. They were also expected to prohibit the importation of goods made with forced labor, a policy aimed at Chinese goods.
Obrador appreciated Biden for treating his country with respect, and noted that it was something that had not always been done. He expressed interest in the US and Canadian government increasing visas for Mexicans, so they could fill the labor force shortage without having to go through the illegal immigration flow.
"Why not study the workforce demand and open the migratory flow in an orderly manner?" he said.
Trump had a difficult relationship with Obrador, due the issue of illegal immigration.
The US and Canada have criticized Mexico for failing to meet its climate action goals. Mexico skipped the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow earlier this month, and accused elite nations of demonstrating "hypocrisy" when it comes to environmentalism.
"We can meet all the challenges if we just take the time to speak to one another, by working together," Biden said, having praised the other two leaders for their commitment to dialogue and cooperation.
tg/wd (AFP, AP, Reuters)