Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he will not lecture President Donald Trump on Syrian refugees.
“The last thing Canadians expect is for me to come down and lecture another country on how they choose to govern”, he said at a news conference.
Both leaders stressed the countries’ shared economic goals and co-operation at a White House news conference.
But their responses to questions about Syrian refugees underscored their contrasting policies on immigration.
Mr Trump defended his controversial travel ban, saying he wanted “to have a big beautiful, open door” but that “we cannot let the wrong people in”.
The US president has come under international scrutiny for issuing an executive order temporarily banning entry of all refugees and visitors from seven mainly Muslim countries.
A federal judge has issued a temporary nationwide block on the travel ban, but the issue of refugees appeared to overshadow the joint news conference.
Mr Trudeau said the US and Canada had always been strong allies, fighting alongside one another on the battlefields.
“But there are times when we have differed in our approaches. And that’s always been done firmly and respectfully”, he said.
The prime minister added that Canada continues to “pursue our policies of openness” and would serve as a “positive example in the world”.
The two men, however, emphasised their commitment to provide growth and jobs for people on both sides of the northern border.
“We will co-ordinate closely to protect jobs in our hemisphere and to keep wealth in our continent,” said Mr Trump.
The Canadian leader said they had a fruitful discussion on immigration.
But he said his country had pursued a policy of openness towards refugees without compromising security.
Mr Trudeau gave Mr Trump a framed photograph of the US president and the prime minister’s father, Pierre Trudeau.
The picture was taken in 1981 when the then-Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau received an award at the Family of Man award ceremony in New York City, according to the prime minister’s office.
The Society for the Family of Man is an international and interfaith organisation founded in 1963 by New York City’s Council of Churches.
The US president’s pledge to renegotiate free trade deal Nafta has reportedly unsettled Canadian officials – 75% of the country’s exports go to the US.
The two leaders, and Mr Trump’s daughter Ivanka, also led a roundtable discussion on female workers.
The neighbouring countries launched a new task force called the United States Canada Council for the Advancement of Women Business Leaders-Female Entrepreneurs.
Ivanka Trump, who appealed to working women throughout her father’s presidential campaign, helped secure female executives to participate and set the agenda for the meeting.
The joint task force may help allay tensions over some of the protectionist measures Mr Trump has issued since he took office in January.
While Mr Trump has made a hardline stance on immigration a key policy, his counterpart north of the border has taken a very different approach.
The Canadian leader made global headlines for accepting nearly 40,000 refugees, and has said his country will welcome those fleeing persecution and war.
When Mr Trump signed an executive order banning arrivals from seven mainly Muslim countries, Mr Trudeau tweeted his government’s commitment to bringing in “those fleeing persecution, terror & war”.
He also sent a pointed tweet that showed him greeting a young refugee at a Canadian airport in 2015.
US migrants flee to Canadian border
It was a cold that Seidu Mohammed and Razak Iyal could barely comprehend.
On Christmas Eve, they found themselves struggling through a waist-deep field of snow in a rash night-time bid to sneak across the Canada-US border.
The two men had met a just few hours before at a Minneapolis bus station and both faced deportation back to Ghana after being denied refugee status in the US.
They had heard through a network of other refugees and African expats that if they could get into Canada, they had a second shot at asylum in the north.
By the time they reached Highway 75 in Manitoba, their hands had frozen into claws. They could not reach the phones in their pockets to dial 9-1-1 as planned. Mohammed’s eyes had frozen shut.
Read the full story here: US migrants seek refugee status in Canada