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North American leaders meet in Ottawa

Updated: 2016-06-30 09:52

North American leaders meet in Ottawa

US President Barack Obama shakes hands with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto as they depart a news conference along with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (R) at the North American Leaders' Summit in Ottawa, Canada June 29, 2016. [Photo/Agencies]

OTTAWA - The leaders of the United States, Canada and Mexico kicked off a summit Wednesday to explore opportunities for North America to become the world's most competitive player in a clean growth economy.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met US President Barack Obama, and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto at the North American Leaders' Summit.

Obama arrived in Canada aboard Air Force One, which landed at the Ottawa airport around 10:15 am Wednesday. He was received by Canada's Governor General David Johnston and Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion.

Trudeau greeted Obama with a handshake and a warm hug at the gate of the National Gallery of Canada where the summit is held. They then joined Mexican President Nieto, who has been here on a two-day state visit to Canada since Monday.

The three leaders are to hold a joint news conference at the conclusion of the summit Wednesday afternoon.

"Today, the leaders of Canada, the United States, and Mexico come together to address shared challenges, knowing cooperation pays off, and that working in partnership always beats going it alone," Trudeau said in a statement before the summit.

"The outcome of today's discussions will improve the lives of Canadians, Americans, and Mexicans across the continent," he said.

It is worth mentioning that Canada and Mexica have cleared away the long-standing trade and travel irritants.

Trudeau announced Tuesday that Canada will lift its controversial visa requirement for Mexicans from December this year while Mexico will end a ban on Canadian beef imports.

Both Trudeau and Nieto described the relationship between their countries as a model of political and economic cooperation, in sharp contrast to the growing strains of protectionism and isolation sweeping the United States and Britain.

After the joint news conference, Trudeau is scheduled to hold a bilateral meeting with Obama, who will end his day-long visit to the Canadian capital with an address to Parliament. Obama is making what is likely to be his last official visit to Canada as US president.

The North America region has a combined population of almost 530 million and an economy that represents more than one-quarter of the world's gross domestic product.

The three countries are among each other's largest trading partners and sources of foreign investment.

In 2015, North American trilateral merchandise trade amounted to 1 trillion US dollars, and the combined GDP has more than doubled over the past two decades, rising from 8 trillion US dollars in 1993) to 20.6 trillion dollars in 2015.


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