March 23rd, 2018

Belgian deputy PM says a Trudeau meeting with royals would have been nice

By The Canadian Press on March 13, 2018.

King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of Belgium stand at a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown soldier at the at the National War Memorial in Ottawa on Monday, March 12, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle

OTTAWA – High-ranking Belgian officials are playing down a perceived snub of the Belgian king and queen by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as the royal couple spends the week on a state visit to Canada.

Belgium’s deputy prime minister, who is also foreign affairs minister, says a meeting between Trudeau and the royal couple would have been preferred.

But in an interview today, Didier Reynders says he understands that the prime minister is dealing with more pressing political concerns; namely showing support for his country’s steel and aluminum industries.

Trudeau is on a cross-country tour of steel and aluminum factories in light of potential tariffs on the metals being imposed by the U.S. government, even though Canada and Mexico were granted a temporary exemption from the tariffs last week by President Donald Trump.

A government source, who requested anonymity, says Belgian officials were told well in advance of the planned visit by King Philippe and Queen Mathilde that Trudeau would likely be unavailable to meet with them this week.

But that message was relayed before the prime minister planned his outreach tour of cities that could be impacted by tariffs.

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