OTTAWA (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau presented a united front on Friday against authoritarian regimes as Biden visited the Canadian capital, days after the leaders of China and Russia held a summit in Moscow.
Pictures of Biden and Trudeau standing side by side in Ottawa announcing agreements covering semiconductors and immigration are a counterpoint to the scene in Moscow a few days ago.
There, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin declared their friendship and pledged closer ties as Russia struggles to make gains in what the West sees as an unfair invasion of Ukraine.
And at a joint press conference with Trudeau, Biden questioned the level of cooperation between China and Russia, stating that China had not provided weapons to Russia for use against Ukraine.
Biden said the United States has expanded its alliances, including with NATO, the Group of Seven, South Korea, the Quartet countries of the United States, Australia, India and Japan.
“We’ve expanded our alliances dramatically,” Biden said. “Tell me how you actually see a circumstance in which China made a major commitment to Russia. What commitment could it make?”
Biden told the Canadian parliament that as NATO members, the two countries would “defend every inch of NATO territory.”
Trudeau said at the news conference that Ukraine was one of the most important issues.
“Today, we reaffirmed our unwavering support for the Ukrainian people as they defend themselves against Putin’s brutal and barbaric invasion,” Trudeau said.
At the press conference, Trudeau announced that the two leaders had signed an agreement with IBM (IBM.N) to develop semiconductor capacity and ease dependence on foreign manufacturers after supply chain problems plagued both countries.
Biden said the US Defense Production Act would give $250 million.
Canada has an abundance of critical minerals used in the production of batteries and electric vehicles, but China currently dominates the global market.
Trudeau is preparing a budget that will be released on Tuesday aimed at increasing production of minerals and clean technology.
“With competition increasing, including from an increasingly assertive China, there is no question why it is important that we turn to each other now to build a market in North America in everything from semiconductors to solar panel batteries,” Trudeau said.
Biden announced $50 million to incentivize US and Canadian companies to invest in semiconductor packaging and said Canada would provide up to C$250 million ($182 million) for semiconductor projects in the near term, according to a joint statement.
The two countries also agreed to form an energy transition task force focused on clean energy and pledged to cooperate on the “North American Critical Minerals Supply Chain,” according to the statement.
The speeches were attended by Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, two Canadian men who have been held by China for more than 1,000 days until 2021. The two leaders addressed the men, who have been at the center of a dispute between Washington and Beijing.
“They are not diplomatic clout. They are human beings with lives and families that must be respected,” Biden said.
Before their meetings, the two leaders had already made an agreement aimed at preventing asylum seekers from crossing the shared land border between the United States and Canada through unofficial crossings.
“The United States and Canada will work together to discourage illegal border crossings and fully implement the updated Safe Third Country Agreement,” Biden said of the deal. Canada agreed to take in 1,500 immigrants from “Western Hemisphere” countries as part of the deal.
($1 = 1.3737 Canadian dollars)
(Cover) By Steve Scherer and Andrea Shalal in Ottawa; Additional reporting by Ismail Shakil in Ottawa, Anna Mahler-Paberni in Toronto, and Ted Hesson and Rami Ayoub in Washington. Written by Steve Shearer and Steve Holland; Editing by Bradley Perrett, Jonathan Otis, Heather Timmons and Josie Coo
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