President Donald Trump claimed he snubbed a meeting request from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the United Nations this week. “I’ve told him forget about it,” Trump remarked Wednesday during a news conference on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly.
Canada, however, was quick to cry foul. No such meeting was ever requested, a Trudeau spokesman told CNN, adding: “We do not have any comment beyond that.”
The back and forth about the supposed meeting comes amid the U.S. and Canada’s acrimonious renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, and follows months of souring relations between the two North American neighbors.
Speaking at the news conference, Trump alleged he refused a “one-on-one meeting” with Trudeau because of Canada’s high dairy tariffs and poor “negotiating style.” He also took a shot at Canada’s “representative” in the NAFTA negotiations, an apparent reference to Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, who has been leading Canada’s negotiations with the U.S.
Trudeau’s “tariffs are too high, and he doesn’t seem to want to move, and I’ve told him forget about it, and frankly, we’re thinking about just taxing cars coming in from Canada,” Trump said. “That’s the mother lode. That’s the big one.”
He added: “We’re very unhappy with the negotiations and the negotiating style of Canada. We don’t like their representative very much.”
Trudeau and Trump were captured on camera briefly shaking hands on Tuesday during a luncheon for world leaders.
Trudeau, who was standing, tapped Trump’s shoulder to greet him. The U.S. president stayed seated as he extended his hand for a cursory handshake. Trump’s decision to stay seated during the exchange has been described as a snub and as showing a lack of diplomatic etiquette.
Trump and Trudeau share a rocky history. In June, after the G7 summit, Trudeau told reporters that Canada would retaliate with tariffs of its own following the imposition of U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum.
In response, Trump lambasted the prime minister on Twitter as being “very dishonest & weak.”
The U.S. has suggested it will forge a new NAFTA deal with just Mexico if it fails to reach an accord with its northern neighbor.
NAFTA, a trilateral trade pact comprising the U.S., Canada and Mexico, has been in force since 1994.