WASHINGTON — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will hold a bilateral meeting with U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence later this week while they're both visiting a conference of U.S. state governors.
The event will be a formal sit-down.
The men will be in Rhode Island for a gathering of more than three dozen governors, and there had been whispers that the Canadian delegation might spend time with a high-profile U.S. federal official.
That official is Pence, a Canadian official has confirmed.
Lest anyone read any political intrigue into the meeting with the man who is second in line to the U.S. presidency, the official stressed this event was arranged before the latest headlines involving President Donald Trump's family contacts with Russians.
"It was confirmed before this week's revelations," the official said.
The special counsel investing Russian election meddling is now examining an exchange involving Donald Trump Jr. in a probe that has now expanded to touch Trump's immediate family.
The release of emails this week has shown that Trump's son went into a meeting with a Russian lawyer last year hoping for dirt collected on Hillary Clinton, and being told it was gathered by the Russian government to help Trump.
The outreach to a vice-president is not uncommon: former U.S. president Barack Obama's vice-president, Joe Biden, was hosted at an official dinner in Ottawa late last year.
With NAFTA negotiations approaching, Canada also has a strategy of reaching out to 11 politically important states — in the hope that, if trade talks hit a rough patch, their governors will advocate for continued open borders.
Some of those governors will be in Rhode Island.
Trudeau will deliver a speech and hold a more informal public exchange with the governors Friday.
Alexander Panetta, The Canadian Press