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Obama Joins Justin Trudeau, Mexican President At Summit In Canada


President Obama met today with his counterparts from Canada and Mexico. It was the last time that he'll take part in one of these so-called three amigos summits. The North American leaders tried to present a united front, especially in contrast to what's happening in Europe after Brexit.

NPR's Scott Horsley has been monitoring the summit, and he joins us now. And Scott, on his way to Ottawa this morning, President Obama telephoned Turkey's president to express sympathy for yesterday's airport attack. What did he say?

SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: Robert, President Obama called President Erdogan from Air Force One, and he offered condolences. He also offered help with the investigation into who's behind that deadly suicide bombing. Turkey has blamed the attack on ISIS. Obama did not go quite that far. He says we're still learning the facts, but he did say this is part of a broader, shared fight against terrorist networks.


BARACK OBAMA: I'm confident that we can and we will defeat those who offer only death and destruction, and we will always remember, even as there are those who are trying to divide us, that we are stronger when we come together and work toward a better world together.

SIEGEL: Working together seemed to be a big theme of the North American leaders today.

HORSLEY: That's right. President Obama and his counterparts from Mexico and Canada seem determined to showcase what an integrated continent looks like. They took some steps to ease travel among the three countries and to further harmonized trade.

The centerpiece of this summit was their ambitious new pledged to boost clean energy production. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says in less than a decade, these three countries hope to be getting half of their electricity from carbon-free sources that don't contribute to climate change.


JUSTIN TRUDEAU: This is what can happen when countries come together in pursuit of a common goal, when we have a big idea and the political will to make it happen. Today's climate agreement stands as proof that cooperation pays off and that working together always beats going it alone.

SIEGEL: Hearing Trudeau speak of going it alone, it sounds like a reference to the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump, whose campaign has been antagonistic to both Mexico and Canada. How did that color today's summit?

HORSLEY: Yeah, there were some veiled and not-so-veiled references to Donald Trump in a joint news conference that the three leaders held after their summit meeting. And there's no question that if Donald Trump were to be elected in November, it would mark a sharp reversal from this spirit of continental cooperation.

Trump has talked about building a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico and about either renegotiating or withdrawing altogether from the North American Free Trade Agreement. Both the Canadian prime minister and the Mexican president said they would of course work with whomever American voters choose as the next president, but it's pretty clear they don't like the idea of Donald Trump in the White House.

And Obama also chimed in at that news conference this afternoon, challenging the idea that Trump is running as a populist. He suggested the presumptive Republican nominee has never shown any regard for workers or fought for social justice.


OBAMA: Somebody who labels us versus them or engages in rhetoric about how we're going to look after ourselves and take it to the other guy - that's not the definition of populism.

HORSLEY: Obama suggested a few other -isms of his own, including nativism and cynicism. He also expanded on the ideas of international cooperation during a speech later this evening to the Canadian Parliament.

SIEGEL: OK. That's NPR's Scott Horsley. Scott, thanks.

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

Scott Horsley is NPR's Chief Economics Correspondent. He reports on ups and downs in the national economy as well as fault lines between booming and busting communities.