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Biden holds a joint press conference with Canada's prime minister


President Biden was in Ottawa today. Usually, U.S. presidents visit the capitol of Canada early in their terms. But in a speech to the Canadian parliament, Biden tried to make up for the delay by talking about the close ties between the two neighbors. And he even made a joke about Toronto's beleaguered hockey team.


PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: I have to say I like your teams, except the Leafs.


CHANG: Ahead of the speech, Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau talked through some difficult issues. NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith has been watching the leaders and joins us now. Hey, Tam.


CHANG: So I understand the two of them came to an agreement on migration issues today. Can you tell us more about that?

KEITH: Yeah. That was definitely the biggest news out of the trip. Both countries have been struggling with a dramatic wave of migrants arriving at the border, both borders. And it's been a challenge for both leaders. We've reported a lot on the political pressure that Republicans are putting on President Biden. And it's also been a political challenge for Trudeau from opposition politicians. They've pressed Trudeau to bring up a treaty with the U.S. that was largely blamed for increasing illegal crossings, and he did that.

The U.S. and Canada agreed to make some changes that will allow both countries to turn away more migrants at unofficial border crossings. And it specifically allows Canada to send asylum seekers who cross the border at these unofficial crossing points back to the U.S. And the U.S. can do the same. This includes the Roxham Road between New York and Quebec. Canada will also accept an additional 15,000 migrants per year from the Western Hemisphere. That includes Haiti, Colombia and Ecuador - those migrants seeking asylum.

CHANG: OK. And I know that another issue that the leaders were set to discuss was the violence in Haiti. Did they come to any agreement on how to address the situation there?

KEITH: This one definitely seems to be a work in progress. The White House has been pressuring Canada to lead a military force to help stabilize Haiti, which has just been gripped by violence. Gangs have essentially taken over the capitol, and parts of the nation risk falling into famine. But after initially being open to the idea of leading the effort, Trudeau has been backing away from that, saying outside intervention never really works.

He did say today that Canada would contribute $100 million to support police forces in Haiti, and he also announced new sanctions. Biden said that this is a difficult circumstance, and the best thing that concerned nations can do is improve the capacity of police departments in Haiti to gain control and break the grip of gangs. He said any decision about military force would have to be made with the United Nations and the government of Haiti. And so while it isn't off the table, it's definitely on the back burner.

CHANG: The back burner - OK. Well, I saw that in their joint press conference later, they got into the whole issue of TikTok, which has been in the headlines here in the U.S. all week. What did we learn?

KEITH: The Canadian government has followed the lead of the Biden administration and banned TikTok from government devices. The company is owned by a Chinese company. The app is made by a Chinese company. And in the case of Trudeau, he has teenage children. And that meant that they had to take the app off of their phones, this very addictive app. And he said they were a bit frustrated with this but that he was relieved because he has a lot of concerns about the safety of the app. It's not clear whether there could be a broader ban in the works for TikTok, but the U.S. government is believed to be weighing that right now unless the parent company, which is based in China, spins off TikTok.

CHANG: That is NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith. Thank you so much, Tam.

KEITH: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tamara Keith has been a White House correspondent for NPR since 2014 and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast, the top political news podcast in America. Keith has chronicled the Trump administration from day one, putting this unorthodox presidency in context for NPR listeners, from early morning tweets to executive orders and investigations. She covered the final two years of the Obama presidency, and during the 2016 presidential campaign she was assigned to cover Hillary Clinton. In 2018, Keith was elected to serve on the board of the White House Correspondents' Association.