Saturday, January 23, 2021
Merkel still has to wait
Biden holds initial talks with heads of state
A few days after his inauguration, the new US president telephones the heads of government in neighboring countries. He talks to the Mexican president about migration, and to the Canadian premier about the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. But one issue affects everyone.
In his first phone call with a foreign head of government, the new US President Joe Biden spoke to the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. As the government in Ottawa announced, the 30-minute phone call on Friday (local time) was about coping with the corona pandemic and environmental issues. The Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has already spoken to the new US President.
Biden and Trudeau agreed to speak again in a month, the White House said. The Canadian government said the talks would advance “important work in renewing the strong and enduring friendship between Canada and the United States.”
According to both sides, Biden and Trudeau also spoke about the decision of the new US president to stop the construction of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline between the US and Canada. Trudeau told Biden his “disappointment” about this step, it said from Ottawa.
Just a few hours after he was sworn in, Biden signed a corresponding ordinance on Wednesday. The Canadian government is in favor of the pipeline that would bring oil from tar sands in the Canadian province of Alberta to refineries in the US state of Texas. Canadian regulators approved the construction of the Keystone XL in 2010.
“Friendly and respectful” phone call
In recent years, however, environmentalists have repeatedly warned of the catastrophic consequences of possible leaks in the pipeline. They also complained that the complicated process of extracting oil from tar sands releases too many greenhouse gases that are harmful to the climate.
The Mexican President López Obrador wrote on the online service Twitter that he had had a “friendly and respectful” phone call with Biden. The topics of the conversation included migration issues, the corona pandemic and cooperation in development policy. “Everything indicates that our relationships will be good for the well-being of our peoples and nations,” wrote López Obrador.
In the coming days, Biden will also have a conversation with Chancellor Angela Merkel. She spoke on the phone with Trump eight days after his inauguration in January 2017. The conversation lasted 45 minutes. His predecessor Barack Obama spoke to Merkel just two days after his election in November 2008. The Chancellor and Biden already know each other from the time of the Obama administration, he was US Vice President at the time.