Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks at a press conference in Ottawa, Ontario, on Thursday, May 31, 2018. The Trump administration announced on Thursday that it will impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Europe, Mexico and Canada. Trudeau said: "These rates are totally unacceptable." Canada announced plans to apply tariffs on Canadian products worth 16.6 billion Canadian dollars (about 12.8 billion US dollars), ranging from steel to yogurt and toilet paper. (Patrick Doyle / The Canadian Press via AP) (Associated Press)
by Rob Gillies | AP May 31 at 9:37 PM
TORONTO – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Thursday he offered to go to Washington this week to complete talks on the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement. But Vice President Mike Pence told him that a meeting with the president of the United States would only happen if Trudeau agreed to include a five-year expiration clause in the agreement.
Trudeau said he refused to attend because of the "totally unacceptable" precondition. He made the comment by describing Canada's response to US tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum.
Last Thursday, President Donald Trump responded in a statement issued by the White House: "Earlier today, this message was transmitted to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Canada: The United States (sic) will agree on a fair deal, or there will be no agreement. "
In a call to Trump last Friday, Trudeau offered to meet Trump because he felt they were close to an agreement. that only required a "final moment to generate agreements".
Trudeau said Trump looked nice before Pence called him on Tuesday.
"I stated that I thought we were very close to reaching an agreement, and maybe the time had pbaded, come and sit down with the president in Washington to finalize the NAFTA agreement," Trudeau said in French. "We already had a very good agreement for all parties, and I thought it would be appropriate for all of us to sit for a few hours and badyze it."
Trudeau has said for a long time that he would not agree to an extinction clause because companies need certainty when making long-term investments and putting a suspension clause every five years would create uncertainty.
"I had to point out that there was no possibility that any Canadian prime minister would sign a NAFTA agreement that included a five-year suspension clause and obviously the visit did not happen," Trudeau said.
Pence badyzed preliminary issues that the Trump administration wanted to clarify before any face-to-face meeting in the White House, including the suspension clause, according to a White House official who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the internal discussions. The official said a number of issues have not yet been resolved, but the United States hopes to continue negotiations with Canada.
Trudeau previously regretted Trump's decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. Canada announced plans to apply tariffs on US products worth 12,800 million dollars, from steel to yoghurt and toilet paper
. Trudeau said he regretted the action but said he should.
"We have to believe that at some point their common sense will prevail, but we do not see any sign of that in this action today by the US administration," Trudeau said.
Associated Press journalist Ken Thomas in Washington contributed to this report.
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