U.S. President Donald Trump arrives to the NATO Summit in Brussels, Belgium on Wednesday, July 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Trudeau, Trump to come face-to-face at NATO for first time since G7 in Quebec

The leaders are in Brussels today for the 2018 North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will come face-to-face with U.S. President Donald Trump for the first time since the explosive end to the G7 meetings in Quebec last month that ended with Trump accusing Trudeau of being “very dishonest and weak.”

The leaders are in Brussels today for the 2018 North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit — a meeting that promises to be anything but boring thanks to Trump’s very presence.

As he was leaving the United States for the NATO meetings Tuesday, Trump published multiple tweets, slamming the European Union and other ally nations for not meeting their two per cent spending targets on defence — a benchmark agreed to at the 2014 summit in Wales.

His appearance at NATO comes just ahead of another summit between himself and Russian President Vladimir Putin, a meeting many have questioned in light of rising aggression coming from Russia in the Baltic region.

On Tuesday, Trudeau said Canada continues to “deplore Russia’s interference and illegal actions.”

Related: Canada will not double its defence budget despite calls from Trump: Trudeau

Related: Trump’s calling Trudeau ‘dishonest and weak’ sparks calls for calm

Related: Trump heads to Europe to face nervous NATO leaders

But while he acknowledged the tensions between Canada and the U.S. playing out in a trade dispute triggered by American tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, Trudeau said the U.S. remains a close friend and trading partner regardless of who is prime minister or president.

“We are two countries that are more closely integrated on trade and security on people-to-people ties than any two countries in the world. We are closest neighbours, strongest allies and, yes, best friends,” he said.

“In any relationship of this size and scope, there are going to be moments of contention and moments where we get along better, but through all this the flow of goods and opportunities on both sides of our border continue.”

Trudeau said he hopes the two nations can “get through this” in order to continue working on the modernization of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Meetings like the NATO summit often give world leaders the opportunity to hold bilateral meetings on key issues of concern or interest.

But as of Tuesday night, Trudeau had no bilateral meetings planned with Trump during the two-day summit.

Leaders will hold multiple closed-door discussions that usually end with a final communique agreed to by all member states.

Teresa Wright, The Canadian Press

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