Obama welcomes Trudeau, celebrates thaw in US-Canada relations

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NTP: Canadian PM Justin Trudeau visits White House, State Dinner
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Obama welcomes Trudeau, celebrates thaw in US-Canada relations
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 10: President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada exchange toasts during a State Dinner at the White House March 10, 2016 in Washington, D.C. Prime Minister Trudeau is on an official visit to Washington. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 10: President Barack Obama (C) gives a toast as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (L) and First Lady Sophie Trudeau of Canada look on during a State Dinner at the White House March 10, 2016 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 10: US President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hold a bilateral meeting in the Oval Office of the White House March 10, 2016 in Washington, DC. This is Trudeau's first trip to Washington since becoming Prime Minister. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 10: US President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hold a bilateral meeting in the Oval Office of the White House March 10, 2016 in Washington, DC. This is Trudeau's first trip to Washington since becoming Prime Minister. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 10: U.S. President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau walk from the Oval Office to a joint press conference in the Rose Garden of the White House March 10, 2016 in Washington, DC. Trudeau and Obama met privately in the Oval Office prior to the press conference. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 10: U.S. first lady Michelle Obama stands with Canadian first lady Sophie Gregoire Trudeau during an arrival ceremony for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (not pictured) on the South Lawn of the White House, March 10, 2016 in Washington, DC. This is Trudeau's first trip to Washington since becoming Prime Minister. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama and Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau take part in a welcome ceremony during a State Visit on the South Lawn of the White House on March 10, 2016 in Washington, DC. / AFP / Nicholas Kamm (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 10: U.S. President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau walk from the Oval Office to a joint press conference in the Rose Garden at the White House, March 10, 2016 in Washington, DC. Obama and Trudeau met privately before the press conference. This is Trudeau's first trip to Washington since becoming Prime Minister. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 10: Canandian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau escorts his wife Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau during an arrival ceremony with U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House, March 10, 2016 in Washington, DC. This is Trudeau's first trip to Washington since becoming Prime Minister. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 10: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets invited guests during an arrival ceremony with U.S. President Barack Obama on the South Lawn of the White House, March 10, 2016 in Washington, DC. This is Trudeau's first trip to Washington since becoming Prime Minister. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 10: U.S. President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau watch as a fife and drum corps performs during a an arrival ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House, March 10, 2016 in Washington, DC. This is Trudeau's first trip to Washington since becoming Prime Minister. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 10: U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about the location of the Stanley Cup as he welcomes Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during an arrival ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House, March 10, 2016 in Washington, DC. This is Trudeau's first trip to Washington since becoming Prime Minister. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and US President Barack Obama greet visitors as they take part in a welcome ceremony during a State Visit on the South Lawn of the White House on March 10, 2016 in Washington, DC. / AFP / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
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By David Ljunggren and Roberta Rampton

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- President Barack Obama offered a red-carpet welcome for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the White House on Thursday, ending a frosty period in U.S.-Canada relations and celebrating shared goals on climate and trade.

"We haven't always conveyed how much we treasure our alliance and ties with our Canadian friends," Obama said in a welcoming ceremony.

The two nations started the day by agreeing joint steps to fight climate change, including cutting methane emissions from oil and gas operations and signing last year's Paris climate deal "as soon as feasible."

SEE ALSO: The White House will serve gourmet poutine at tonight's state dinner

Methane, which can leak from pipelines and valves, is a powerful greenhouse gas, with up to 80 times the potential of carbon dioxide to trap the planet's heat.

The countries also committed to cutting emissions of methane by 40 to 45 percent below 2012 levels by 2025, to take steps to fight climate change in the Arctic, and to speed development of green technologies.

Obama has much in common with Trudeau, the progressive 44-year-old Liberal Party leader who took office in November. He replaced Conservative Stephen Harper, who had hectored the White House for years in a failed bid to push through U.S. approval for the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

Obama Welcomes Trudeau to White House

Trudeau's official visit will be capped by a state dinner on Thursday, making him the first Canadian leader to be granted that honor since 1997.

"Our great countries have been friends a long time. We grew up together ... and through it all, our enormous shared accomplishments speak for themselves," he said in reply to Obama.

Americans have been captivated by the photogenic Trudeau, 44, whose father, Pierre Trudeau, was prime minister from 1968 through 1979, and again from 1980 to 1984.

Also on the agenda for Oval Office talks are plans to expedite bilateral travel and trade, and shared areas of global concern ranging from Syria to Ukraine.

Trudeau, who is struggling at home with a soft economy and a weak Canadian dollar, campaigned on repairing strained ties.

But his visit may be overshadowed by the raucous race to succeed Obama in the Nov. 8 presidential election. Candidates on both the left and right have taken anti-free-trade positions.

Obama hopes to convince a reluctant U.S. Congress to ratify the sprawling Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact before he leaves office in January. Canada is also wrestling with the merits of the TPP.

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