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Trudeau after meeting Trump: Canada will continue to welcome refugees

President Trump said banning refugees is 'common sense' but Canada's PM vowed to pursue policies of 'openness'
PM Trudeau said he would not lecture another country on how to govern itself (Reuters)

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau vowed during a visit to the White House on Monday that his country would continue to welcome refugees, even as President Donald Trump defended his efforts to bar them from US soil as "common sense".

"Canada has always understood that keeping Canadians safe is one of the fundamental responsibilities of any government," Trudeau told a joint news conference with the US president.

"At the same time, we continue to pursue our policies of openness towards refugees without compromising security."

But the Canadian PM stopped short of criticising Trump’s travel ban.

"There have been times where we have differed in our approaches and that's always been done firmly and respectfully," Trudeau said. "The last thing Canadians expect is for me to come down and lecture another country on how they choose to govern themselves."

'We continue to pursue our policies of openness towards refugees without compromising security' - Justin Trudeau

Trump meanwhile defended his controversial move to close US borders to refugees and citizens of seven mostly-Muslim nations, saying "we cannot let the wrong people in".

"It is a stance of common sense. And we are going to pursue it vigorously," Trump said.

The US president also said the United States will be "tweaking" its trade relationship with Canada.

"We have a very outstanding trade relationship with Canada. We'll be tweaking it," Trump said at the joint news conference.

"It's a much less severe situation than what's taking place on the southern border. On the southern border, for many, many years the transaction was not fair to the United States."

For his part, Trudeau said the two nations - who with Mexico make up the North American Free Trade Agreement - "will always remain each other's most essential partner".

"Today's conversations have served to reinforce how important that is for both Canadians and Americans," he added.

Throughout his campaign and since his November election, Trump has voiced his determination to put "America first" and rip up NAFTA, which he has said is a "catastrophe" for American jobs.