Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife will come to Washington for a state visit on March 10, the White House announced Monday, a sign of the deepening ties between President Obama and his Canadian counterpart.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest said in a statement that the visit by Trudeau and his wife, Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau, will include a state dinner as well as working meetings. It will mark the first state visit by a Canadian prime minister since 1997.
''The visit will be an opportunity for the United States and Canada to deepen their bilateral relationship, which is one of the closest and most extensive in the world and is based on a shared history, common values, and a vast and intricate network of cultural, familial, and commercial ties,'' Earnest said in the statement. ''The visit also is intended to advance cooperation on important bilateral and multilateral issues, such as energy and climate change, security, and the economy.''
The 43-year-old leader of Canadian's Liberal Party, who ousted Canada's Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper in October, has already garnered international attention for his telegenic looks and exuberant approach to governing.
In November, when Trudeau and Obama met for the first time at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Manila, the U.S. president told him ''I know Canadians are incredibly inspired by your message of hope and change,'' but Trudeau would have to take precautions if he wanted to preserve his youthful appearance. At the time, Trudeau had earned the nickname #APEChottie on Twitter.
''I just want to point out that I had no gray hair when I was in your shoes seven years ago,'' the president said. ''So if you don't want to have gray hair like me, you have to start dying it soon.''
While Obama developed a good working relationship with Harper, especially when it came to countering terrorism overseas, he is ideologically closer to Trudeau. Trudeau and Obama worked together in recent weeks to help forge a new international pact on climate change, a subject which was a source of tension between the two countries under Harper's leadership because of his support for Canada's oil sands industry.
White House officials said the two leaders would discuss issues including climate change, investment, trade, border security and ''global leadership.'' Trudeau has shown a willingness to engage multilaterally, welcoming new Syrian refugees to Canada recently, but he has also challenged American foreign policy by withdrawing Canadian warplanes from the international air campaign against the Islamic State.
Canada's economic importance to the United States is significant: it ranks as America's largest trading partner, with more than $2 billion a day in goods and services; its third largest foreign investor; and its single biggest foreign energy supplier. America is Canada's biggest foreign investor, and roughly 300,000 people cross the border between the two countries every day.
Trudeau's wife has her own agenda for the upcoming visit: in November the prime minister noted that Grégoire-Trudeau was eager to get advice from first lady Michelle Obama about the White House vegetable garden.
Keywords: Justin Trudeau, Obama Trudeau, Trudeau state visit