Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets with American Vice-President Mike Pence at the National Governor’s Association (NGA) Special Session - Collaborating to Create Tomorrow’s Global Economy, in Providence, R.I., Friday, July 14, 2017. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

Trudeau to meet U.S. vice-president amid NAFTA talks, Syria strikes

US President Donald Trump cancelled summit last minute to deal with chemical-weapons attack in Syria

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will have a chance to make the case for a successful end to North American free trade talks — and learn more about the U.S. strikes against Syria — when he meets U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence today.

The meeting will occur on the sidelines of the Summit of the Americas, which takes place every four years and which U.S. President Donald Trump was expected to attend until he cancelled at the last minute.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters in Lima, Peru, on Friday that the Canadian delegation is looking forward to its meeting with Pence.

Trump cancelled his attendance at the last minute to deal with the recent chemical-weapons attack in Syria, which culminated in the launch of U.S., British and French strikes against Syrian targets on Friday night.

Shortly after the strikes, the prime minister issued a statement condemning the use of chemical weapons in eastern Ghouta, where more than 40 people were killed and 500 injured — many of them children — on April 7.

“Canada supports the decision by the United States, the United Kingdom, and France to take action to degrade the Assad regime’s ability to launch chemical weapons attacks against its own people,” Trudeau said.

Freeland, who spoke before the strikes were announced, said she understood why Trump could not attend the summit in Peru and that the government has a good relationship with Pence.

“We’ve had some very good meetings with Vice-President Pence,” Freeland said.

“He is a former governor, so he has a real fingertip understanding of what trade between Canada and the U.S. means. And I think it will be a good opportunity for the prime minister to continue that conversation.”

Pence served as governor of Indiana from 2013 to 2017.

READ MORE: U.S. and allies attacking Syria

READ MORE: ‘Mission Accomplished’ in Syria, Trump declares on Twitter

The meeting also gives Trudeau an opportunity to clarify the U.S. position after American negotiators indicated this week that they would soften their position on autos, before Trump said he was willing to “renegotiate forever.”

Trudeau’s meeting with Pence comes after the prime minister and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto huddled with their senior lieutenants on the NAFTA negotiations on Friday.

Negotiators from all three countries are currently hard at work in Washington, where an agreement on autos is reportedly imminent and the focus is now turning to agriculture.

The prime minister is also scheduled today to meet with the president of Argentina and leaders from the Pacific Alliance trade bloc, which is comprised of Mexico, Peru, Chile and Colombia.

Canada is also expected to contribute new funds to help stamp out corruption in the Americas as part of the summit.

Peru is the first stop in a major foreign tour for Trudeau, who also plans to visit France and the United Kingdom, the latter to participate in a Commonwealth meeting.

The prime minister was scheduled to fly directly from Peru to France, where he is scheduled to address the French National Assembly.

But he will make a quick stop in Ottawa on Sunday to meet with Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and B.C. Premier John Horgan, who are locked in a bitter dispute over Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline.

Trudeau will continue on to Paris after the stop in Ottawa.

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

North Cowichan appeals new permit for expansion at Chemainus composting facility

Province allows composting facility to expand processing

Editorial: Low water levels on Vancouver Island worrying

This is the time of year when our lakes are usually filled to capacity and beyond

Meet the Ladysmith ambassador candidates

Seven enrolled in this year’s leadership program

Trudeau calls May 6 byelection for B.C. riding of Nanaimo-Ladysmith

The riding opened up when Sheila Malcolmson resigned in January

Dump truck driver hurt after highway crash in Ladysmith

One man airlifted to hospital after collision between dump truck and pickup truck Friday

Sparks fly as SUV speeds down wrong side of Highway 1 trying to flee RCMP

Captured on video, the vehicle headed westbound against oncoming traffic before crashing

Terror at sea: Helicopter rescues frightened cruise passengers in Norway

The Viking Sky cruise ship was carrying 1,300 passengers and crew when it experienced engine trouble

Search and rescue team helicopters injured climber from B.C. provincial park

A 30-year-old woman suffered a suspected lower-limb fracture in Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park

DOJ: Trump campaign did not co-ordinate with Russia in 2016

Attorney General William Barr said special counsel “does not exonerate” Trump of obstructing justice

Trudeau in Vancouver to support Tamara Taggart at Liberal nomination event

The former broadcaster is seeking the nomination for the Vancouver Kingsway riding

B.C. VIEWS: The hijacking of our education system gathers speed

Children taught to strike and shout fringe far-left demands

Judges on Twitter? Ethical guidance for those on the bench under review

Canadian judges involvement in community life are among issues under review

Calgary captain has 3 points as Flames torch Canucks 3-1

Giordano leads way as Alberta side cracks 100-point plateau

Fire crews battle large blaze at Courtenay hostel

Courtenay Fire Chief Don Bardonnex said nobody was injured

Most Read