Trudeau tells Biden US leadership has been 'sorely missed'

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By JUSTIN GOMEZ and MOLLY NAGLE, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- President Joe Biden held his first bilateral meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Tuesday afternoon and reiterated the close relationship between the the two countries, saying there was "no closer friend" for the U.S. than Canada.

In his brief remarks, Biden spoke about their discussion at the G-7 virtual meeting Friday, recalling his message about democracy and the need to protect and prioritize it -- a veiled swipe at his predecessor.

"We spoke about this at the G-7, but it's worth saying again: I believe the leaders of the major democracies, we have -- or, as leaders of major democracies, we have responsibility to prove that democracy can still deliver for our people," Biden said.

"There are a lot of leaders around the world who are trying -- that's how we're going to win the battle for the future," Biden added.

Trudeau welcomed the U.S. back to the world stage, saying the country's leadership has been "sorely missed," and threw his own veiled swipe at the Trump administration over the repeated times they removed references to climate change from joint statements.

Seated at the table with Biden were Vice President Kamala Harris, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, national security adviser Jake Sullivan and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas.

In her remarks, Harris brought up the time she spent living in Canada as a teenager while her mother taught at McGill University in Montreal. She said she looks forward to working on shared challenges, including the coronavirus pandemic, climate change and Russia and China.

"We are neighbors. We are friends, as a country. And the challenges that we face, not only are -- as we've said about COVID and climate change -- also as the president will talk about and has mentioned, our challenges in terms of China and Russia, and what we can do in terms of working together on that and working together in term of strengthening and modernizing the U.N. and WTO," she said.

Biden and Trudeau are also expected to make remarks following the meetings.

This is a developing news story. Please check back for updates.

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