WASHINGTON The White House is eager to turn the page on the years-long fight over a crude oil pipeline with Canada and celebrate its close economic and security ties with its northern neighbour, U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice said on Wednesday.
Trade between the United States and Canada and joint efforts to curb climate change will loom large on the agenda for the meeting between President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Washington on Thursday.
It will be followed by a star-studded state dinner meant to recognise the importance of the bilateral relationship, the first state dinner to honour Canada in 19 years.
Trudeau's Liberals came to power in November by ousting right-wing Conservative leader Stephen Harper, whose ties with Washington deteriorated as he hectored Obama over the Keystone XL pipeline.
President Barack Obama blocked the project last year, a victory for environmentalists who had campaigned against the pipeline.
The spat is in the past, Rice said.
"In any bilateral relationship, there are going to be issues of difference and occasional friction," she told Reuters in an interview.
"The complexity and the breadth and the depth of the U.S-Canada relationship is such that no single issue can overshadow the totality of the relationship," she said.
Obama and Trudeau will discuss the next steps for the "Beyond the Border" initiative, a plan to speed travel and trade, Rice said.
"With the longest peaceful border and $2 billion a day in trade in both directions, we have an enormous shared stake in a border that is open for business and open for travel - and safe," Rice said.
Trudeau campaigned to strengthen ties with the United States, but also promised he would pull out six fighter jets from the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
Rice said the White House is satisfied with steps that Trudeau took to beef up training, surveillance and other support to the coalition.
"Taken as a whole, we view the Canadian stepped-up contribution to the counter-ISIL campaign as being very, very valuable and welcome," Rice said, using an acronym for Islamic State.
The White House has also watched closely as Trudeau welcomed 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada in four months.
"We've seen thus far that Canada is taking very seriously its responsibility to its own citizens and to our common security to be vigilant as it welcomes these new refugees," Rice said.
(Reporting by Roberta Rampton, editing by Tiffany Wu)
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Updated Date: Mar 10, 2016 04:32 AM