(Recasts; adds details on talks, quotes, background)
By David Ljunggren
OTTAWA Feb 9 Canadian Prime Minister Justin
Trudeau will hold his first talks with U.S. President Donald
Trump on Monday amid tensions over whether the administration
plans protectionist measures that could cripple Canada's
The two leaders also have differing views about immigration
from predominantly Muslim nations and Trump is likely to press
his Canadian counterpart to ramp up defense spending and thereby
help shore up NATO.
Although the progressive 45-year-old Trudeau has little in
common with the 70-year-old Republican businessman president, he
needs to make a good impression on Trump, who wants to
renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
Canada sends 75 percent of its exports to the United States
and is keen to avoid becoming the target of extra tariffs or
other damaging measures. Trump says NAFTA, which also includes
Mexico, has been disastrous for American workers.
Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland sounded a note of caution
on Wednesday, saying Canada opposed the idea of the United
States imposing new border tariffs and would respond
appropriately to any such move.
Although neither administration released details of Monday's
meeting at the White House, two people familiar with the talks
said it would be wide-ranging.
"They will discuss everything - trade, the border, security
and defense," said one person, who asked to remain anonymous
because of the sensitivity of the matter.
Defense, particularly NATO, is a likely sticking point.
Although Alliance nations have committed to spending 2 percent
of gross domestic product on their militaries, Canada
contributes barely half that.
Trudeau's office, asked about the agenda, said more details
would become known later.
"President Trump and Prime Minister Trudeau look forward to
a constructive conversation on strengthening the relationship
between our two nations," the White House said in a statement.
Several senior Canadian government ministers visited
Washington this week to meet their U.S. counterparts as part of
a charm offensive designed to persuade the Trump team not to
single out Canada during the NAFTA talks.
The Trump administration is not necessarily all bad news for
the Canadian economy.
Last month, the president cleared the way for TransCanada
Corp's proposed Keystone XL pipeline from the Alberta
oil sands to U.S. refineries.
If built, the project could help a Canadian energy sector
struggling with low crude prices.
(Additional reporting by Doina Chiacu in Washington; editing by
David Alexander, Bernard Orr)