Trudeau calls for keeping US-Canada border demilitarized

Canadian prime minister Justin TrudeauJustin Pierre James TrudeauTrump says inviting Russia to G7 'a question of common sense' EU foreign policy chief says US can invite Russia as 'guest' to G-7 Canada's Trudeau responds to Trump: Russia not welcome in G-7 MORE on Thursday called for keeping the U.S.-Canada border demilitarized amid the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, saying that it’s “very much" in both countries' interests for it to remain that way. 

Trudeau said at press conference that his administration has been in discussions with the United States about the possibility, confirming a Global News report that the White House was considering sending troops to the border. 

"Canada and the United States have the longest unmilitarized border in the world," Trudeau said. "And it is very much in both of our interests for it remain that way."

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Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland added that Canada was "strongly opposed" to the U.S. taking this step, saying that "we’ve made that very clear to our U.S. counterparts.” 

Global News, a Canadian television network, early Thursday reported that the Trump administration was considering dispatching troops along the northern border to help border guards detect irregular crossings. 

Sources told the network that the deployment would likely involve fewer than 1,000 service members. 

Asked whether the Trump administration was considering putting troops at the U.S. border with Canada, a senior administration official said broadly that the administration would "continue to consider additional actions" to ensure law enforcement personnel at the country's borders are properly supported to address the public health threat. 

"The administration is considering every option to help slow the spread of the virus, minimize health threats entering the country, and protect Americans while ensuring essential travel for workers, movement of goods, and security of supply chains are not impeded," the senior administration official said.

The coronavirus, which originated in China in December, has since spread throughout the U.S., infecting more than 75,000 people as of Thursday afternoon, according to a Johns Hopkins University database. Canada has reported more than 3,500 confirmed cases of the virus.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpFormer employees critique EPA under Trump in new report Fired State Department watchdog says Pompeo aide attempted to 'bully' him over investigations Virginia senator calls for Barr to resign over order to clear protests MORE said last week that the U.S. and Canada had agreed to close their border to nonessential travel as part of their efforts to slow the virus's spread. He said trade between the nations would not be affected.