US President Donald Trump’s trade adviser Peter Navarro has apologised for having said there was “a special place in hell” for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
- Peter Navarro says he was trying to send a “strong signal of strength”
- Justin Trudeau’s spokeswoman declines to comment on apology
- Donald Trump keeps up his attacks on the Canadian Prime Minister
“Let me correct a mistake I made,” Mr Navarro said at a Wall Street Journal conference.
“My mission was to send a strong signal of strength. The problem is that in conveying that message I used language that was inappropriate.”
The admission was a rare act of contrition from the Trump White House, where public apologies are few.
Mr Trump was furious after Mr Trudeau had said at the end of a contentious economic summit in Quebec that he wouldn’t let Canada be pushed around in trade relations with the United States.
Appearing on Fox News Sunday, Mr Navarro said: “There’s a special place in hell for any foreign leader that engages in bad-faith diplomacy with President Donald J Trump.”
The United States has alienated Canada and other allies by imposing tariffs on steel and aluminium imports, arguing that they posed a threat to US national security.
The move has been roundly criticised by Canada and the European Union, leading to heightened tensions at last week’s summit of the Group of Seven wealthy democracies — just before Mr Trump left for Singapore and a meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Mr Trump’s top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, suggested that Mr Trump saw Mr Trudeau as trying to weaken his hand before the summit with Mr Kim.
Mr Kudlow said the President won’t “let a Canadian prime minister push him around … Kim must not see American weakness”.
Mr Kudlow later suffered a “very mild” heart attack, the White House said Monday, but was in good condition.
On Tuesday, Mr Trump kept up the attack on Mr Trudeau.
At a news conference after his meeting with Mr Kim, the President said the Canadian leader must not have realised that Mr Trump had televisions on Air Force One, allowing him to monitor Mr Trudeau’s news conference at the end of the G7 summit.
“That’s going to cost a lot of money for the people of Canada; he learned,” Mr Trump said wagging his finger.
“You can’t do that.”
A spokeswoman for Mr Trudeau, Eleanore Catenaro, declined to comment on Mr Navarro’s acknowledgement of a mistake.
Bruce Heyman, a former US ambassador to Canada, said Mr Navarro had “crossed a line.
“I don’t care how mad, how angry you are, you don’t treat the head of state of another country like that unless you are getting ready for a military engagement of some kind,” he said.